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    These Days at Medieval Times, It’s Queens Who Rule the Castle

    These Days At Medieval Times, Queens Rule the Castles


    Revamping a storied show at the almost-35-year-old dinner theater known for chicken legs and jousting knights.

    It is by now news to very few people that the princess who lives in the world that you step into when you visit Medieval Times—the almost-35-year-old dinner theater known for chicken legs and jousting knights—has been promoted, or rather, coronated. Princess Catalina is now a queen. The made-up reason—spoiler alert: Her father dies—is less surprising, perhaps, than the real story: Guests of the show, and they are legion and very often repeat customers, wanted more women in stronger, more powerful roles. The kingdom (a privately held?entertainment company that is based in Texas and has eight castles in the U.S. and one in Canada) heard its subjects/paying customers and delivered, introducing Queen Do?a Maria Isabella at the end of 2017. “We decided we’re going to give the people what they want,” says Erin Zapcic, a former princess who now plays the queen a few nights a week at a castle on the edge of the New Jersey Meadowlands. (She also works in marketing for the company.)

    It’s a big deal for a lot of reasons, including the less obvious one, logistics. It takes months to update a show that plays simultaneously in nine castles. More obviously, there is the current cultural climate, though Medieval Times officials insist they were changing the show before the #MeToo movement became a trending topic. For the princesses themselves, it’s been great to take the throne. Cameron Inman, a former princess who is now queen, was in Spain when she learned of the change. “When I heard what they were doing, just as someone on the outside,” she says, “I thought: This is so empowering, empowering for girls and women, because people still come up to me and say, ‘Oh, the princess.’ And I’m like, ‘No, actually. I am the queen.’ It’s so stereotypical for someone to see a woman in a dress with a crown and say, ‘Oh, she’s a princess.’ They don’t put her in a leadership role. But now we can say, ‘Oh, no, this is my castle. I’m actually the queen here.’ And to see little girls’ faces when you tell them that! Their eyes glow and they light up, and you’re like, ‘Yes, you don’t have to be in that stereotypical role.’”

    What will change next? Will serving wenches stay serving wenches? Will the role be open to men? Fans will have to wait to find out, since Medieval Times only changes the show every four or five years. “We’re taking it one step at a time,” says Jessica Schear, a New Jersey–based Queen Isabella. “Right now, we’re just focusing on the queen and this new show, but anything is possible in the future.” It is safe to say that the queens miss their princesses, to some extent. “I loved playing the princess,” says Tara Henderson. “I got choked up on my final night, when I turned in my tiara. But one of the things I love the most about acting is that it challenges me to grow as a person. Queen Isabella is such a rich character, and I love stepping onstage every night and finding new things in her, finding new ways to rule.”

     


    Visual Editor: Samantha Adler
    Visual Producer: Ashley Solomon
    Web Producer: Fernanda Peres
    Special thanks to Synthia Feliciano-Johnson, Medieval Times

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