By Angie Mayes
Special to Mt. Juliet News
A new business in Wilson County is expected to be popular among young children thanks to the stars of the show – princesses currently and superheroes in the future.
The company, By Royal Invitation, is owned by Middle Tennessee actress, director and vocal coach Katharine Boettcher.
“I have been wanting to create something like this for the past three years,” Boettcher said. “I played Ursula a few years ago in a production of the Little Mermaid and had an amazing time. Seeing the kids react to the characters on stage just made me smile. I know how giddy I get when I visit characters in the Orlando parks, I can only imagine the excitement is 100 times more in a little one.”
She said as a child, she “hand sewed all of my Halloween costumes and had a blast creating some of my favorite Broadway characters come to life.”
The characters in By Royal Invitation are “based on classic fairy tales and villains. As the company grows, there will be superheroes and heroines and who knows where else our imagination will take us.”
There’s no limit to the number of characters that will be available for shows, parties and the like.
“We will have a small roster to begin with, but as we grow, we will continually expand and bring in new characters,” she said. Among them will be “the Snow Queen, the Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Mother Goethel, Cruella De Ville and more.”
Not affiliated with Disney, the use of the names is allowed due to the characters taken from Grimm’s Fairy Tales and stories from Hans Christian Anderson.
“It is not our intent to infringe on copyright,” Boettcher said. “Our fairy tale characters are based on the Grimm Brothers and other historic fairy tale characters. Our costuming is of the highest quality. They are designed by [me], and many are built from scratch by a costumer in Nashville. Our characters have unique names and personalities.”
She said the company will offer “some Jedi knights, and we are hoping to cast a couple of superheroes during the audition process.”
The audition process is currently taking place.
“We currently have a casting call out for face actors and are taking submissions for all characters,” Boettcher said. “Once submissions are gathered, I will pull and have one-on-one auditions.”
Anyone interested in submitting materials must be 16 years old, have reliable transportation, send in a resume with height clearly marked, headshot and full-body shot. The information must be emailed to [email protected] At the time of hire, eligible talent will have passed a background check and be eligible to work in the United States before a contract will be offered.
“There is no weight or ethnic requirement,” she said. “I am looking for diversity. Something that will distinguish By Royal Invitation is the fact that a character is not limited by their ethnicity or weight. I do want to keep true to some height requirements as there are expectations of how tall characters are when they are meeting guests.
The actors’ auditions, resume and personality will have a lot to do with the hiring process, she said.
“I am looking for people who are fast on their feet,” Boettcher said. “Children can ask a variety of questions, and our characters need to be able to stay in character and answer as the characters. Our characters are going to be entertaining so they must be able to sing and act, as well as interact with our guests to make their day an extra-special occasion.”
All actors must sing and be able to tell their characters story as if it is their own, she said.
“We have several options for what our characters will perform-do at a variety of occasions,” Boettcher said. “[That includes] photo opportunities and, of course, corporate and community events. I’m hoping to hold a couple of character nights at some of Wilson County’s local restaurants that have kids’ nights.
All face characters are paid per event, she said. Each character is accompanied by a paid attendant to assist with children and the character’s needs during the event. All characters are also attendants when not in character.
“We are hoping to have several special events for kick offs, as well as for charity events,” she said. “My heart is with Make-a-Wish Foundation, and I hope to build a relationship with them. And I am hoping to have a Halloween bash with some fun villains and bad guys, too.”
For more information, contact Boettcher through the company’s Facebook page, By Royal Invitation, or via email [email protected]. Boettcher will launch a website when the full cast of characters is finalized.
Boettcher said her company is “the first of our kind in Wilson County, and [we] are very proud that we have some amazing Wilson County talent already on our roster of characters. Character parties are huge. So many folks love to have this one-on-one experience with these iconic characters. And if you can’t get to the magic down in Florida, we hope to bring a little fairy tale magic to Middle Tennessee.”