Before the opening of yesterday’s performance of “Disney’s Aladdin Jr.” at Greasepaint Youtheatre in Scottsdale, board member Wendy Claus called “birthday girl” Aubrie Silva up on stage — presenting her with a light blue Greasepaint t-shirt and leading the audience in a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday to You.”
Scottsdale mother Francine Silva let the theater know ahead of time that she was bringing Aubrie, who has two siblings, over to celebrate her birthday at the show with a group of ten friends. Silva even brought a tent and benches along so the girls could spend an hour or so before the show having their nails and temporary tattoos done by big sister Annelise and one of her friends.
Silva proudly notes that Annelise is the oldest member of Greasepaint LIVE — a group of young performing artists who “bring entertainment to shelters, senior centers and other organizations.” The 17-member group also ”provides peer mentoring programming to youth groups with a special focus on trying to reach children in Title 1 schools.”
Birthday girl Aubrie has “been to many Gammage shows,” according to her mom. But for some of Aubrie’s guests, this was the first experience with live theater. Silva told me that Aubrie “absolutely loved the show,” then offered her own description of Sunday’s performance — “all live, all wonderful, all beautiful.”
It sounds like Silva had just as much fun as her daughter, getting in the spirit ahead of time with invitations that read “princess dresses and tiaras optional” and putting together small tubs of blue cotton candy with bows on top and labels reading “Genie in a Bottle” or “Clouds from Agrabah.”
Silva also put together “princess bags” for each guest — containing party favors that included roses, necklaces, crowns, wands and candy. Parents less inspired to gather their own favors always have the option of getting show t-shirts for party kids and their guests.
“Disney’s Aladdin Jr.” is being performed again this weekend, so there’s still time to plan a birthday or Halloween party around the show assuming you get tickets while they’re still available. Other Greasepaint shows this season, “Les Miserables” and “Cinderella,” also have great theme party potential.
Most theater companies who perform for families won’t mind you asking about birthday celebrations theater-style, so check with your local theater groups to see what they offer. Also check with folks like Childsplay, Cookie Company and Valley Youth Theatre.
Something tells me that Aubrie will always remember her Greasepaint Youtheatre princess party. Before you know it, her mom’ll be calling to schedule a graduation party. Time is fleeting, and they grow so fast. Cherish every birthday, and remember the power of live theater as you’re planning all those joyous celebrations.
Coming up: A world of faces, Gershwin tales