Brigham Young University’s Theatre Department is presenting the first-ever premiere of “Princess Academy.” The new play is based off Shannon Hale’s New York Times bestseller children’s novel of the same name.
After receiving the rights, Utah Valley University professor Lisa Hall Hagan transformed the 300-page novel into a 100-minute play. The last year included various readings with both BYU and UVU students to continue to adapt the script.
“There were three rewrites between casting and rehearsals,” UVU alumna Aubrey Wilde said. “So you didn’t want to totally memorize your lines because you weren’t sure if it was going to change.”
Wilde played the lead character, Miri. The production includes a diverse cast from both UVU and BYU.
Wilde said she identifies with her character.
“I feel like we relate so much!” Wilde said. “We’re both tiny people that have really big dreams and some people don’t think we can do what we want to do, but nothing is going to stop us.”
The stage production of “Princess Academy” has been a work in progress since 2010. BYU faculty member and director Megan Sanborn Jones enjoyed the children’s novel and pitched the idea of adapting the book into a play.
Jones found the themes in the play contributed to the play’s production.
“In the process of creating this new adaption of the novel for the BYU stage, we found inspiration and truth in this lesson,” Jones said. “This is the true magic of collaboration — the work each person does to fully understand, respect and nurture the vision of the other creators. This inspired us to be better individually, to learn from one another and to love our work.”
As part of the premiere the company has begun a book drive to last the length of the production. A large stack of books are piled high in the Harris Fine Arts Center main gallery, where all can bring donated children’s books.
The drive will continue until the last day of the performance on June 13, 2015. Books will be donated to the children in the Provo School District.
BYU will host “Princess Academy” author Hale on June 13. She will participate in the post-performance talkback after the matinee.
The play tells the story of a young girl whose home and heart is in the mountains. Along with the other girls her age, she is expected to leave home to attend a finishing school.
The academy hopes to train them into ladies fit to be the bride of a prince, but the girls learn a few more lessons during their stay.
The play carries themes of education, teamwork and collaboration. These attributes were reflected in the production of the play through the involvement of many individuals in the area.
Drew Wilde, husband of Audrey Wilde, said the production gives a positive message for all audiences.
“This is positive princess culture,” he said. “You don’t have to be a traditional princess to truly be a princess.”
The start of Princess Academy was set back by 30 minutes opening night due to a fire alarm. The rest of the performance continued without any other major complications.
The age requirement to attend BYU fine art events was lowered for this performance to admit children 4 years of age and older.
Princess Academy will run a total of three weeks with performances on May 29–30, June 4–6 and 10–13 at 7 p.m. in the Pardoe Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at the BYU HFAC ticket office.