'Plain Princess' makes world premiere at WSU

The Plain Princess
(Source: Christine Denniston) (Left to right) Lindsay K. Blackman, Shawnee K. Johnson and Katie Jones star in “The Plain Princess,” an original musical adapted from the children’s book by Phyllis McGinley.


Jim Christian’s musical “The Plain Princess” had its world premiere last Friday in the Allred Theater. Based off of the children’s book by Phyllis McGinley, the production carries the children’s theme in its music, acting and staging.

The musical tells the story of a royal family whose plain princess (Lindsay K. Blackman) is an embarrassment and an offense to her parents (Nathan Waite and Becca Lichfield) and their kingdom. The king offers fame, fortune and a purse of gold to anyone who succeeds in helping her change into a beautiful girl, inside and out. To ensure success, the penalty for failure is death by beheading. One humble peasant (Shawnee K. Johnson) accepts the challenge, and the kingdom is never the same.

Trenton Fordham, an alumnus of the performing arts at Weber State University, said he was particularly impressed with the set.

“The set was fantastic. That was one of the best sets I’ve seen at Weber State. I loved the show. It was really charming. The music was great, and the score and the lyrics were fantastic.”

Fordham vouched for the high-caliber performances at WSU. “They’re great productions. They’re just as good as any other professional theater in the Utah area.”

Erin Crouch, the house manager for “The Plain Princess,” said the theater has been full on many nights of the play’s run.

“There’s been a pretty good turnout, especially on Student Night. The house was almost full. The actors said it was one of their best audiences.”

Crouch said she thinks it’s important for students to attend performing arts events on campus.

“It’s good for students to be involved in lots of things on campus. It helps them see what people are working on — they see the importance of the things that we do and how hard we work. It’s like supporting the football team.”

“The Plain Princess” was written and directed by Christian, WSU’s director of musical theater.

While Christian loves the entire production, he said he especially enjoyed “the surprise moments, those moments when the audience and the characters are caught off guard. Those are the moments in our own lives that are the most magical, and I think the same thing holds true here.”
While the production debuted smoothly, Christian said making the show seem easy was a particular struggle, that “capturing the intricacies of the music while making everything seem effortless was a fun challenge — also, finding the ‘bigness’ of storytelling while capturing the naturalness of the characters.”
Christian encourages families and students to attend. “This is a story that is incredibly timely. We live in an age where appearance and possessions matter far too much, and simplicity and human kindness often take a back seat. This is a wonderful opportunity for old and young alike to enjoy a theatrical event that embraces them like a warm hug and brings laughter to their lips.”
“The Plain Princess” will run until Oct. 12. Tickets can be purchased through the Browning Center box office or at www.weberstatetickets.com.