I've been very busy running home after midnight wearing glass slippers and a puffy marshmallow coloured ball gown for the past couple of weeks in the Young People's Theatre production of Cinderella (a RATical retelling) in Toronto.
Last week, I had the honour of writing for the National Post's special diary section of the newspaper. I had the privilege of writing about all of the pressing issues of princess-hood: from haircuts to prince charming.
I wanted to share my royal qualms with you.
Princess Diary Day 1: This Cinderella Prefers to Wear Sweatpants with her Glass Slippers
I haven’t worn pants in weeks. Twenty-one days to be exact. In rehearsals, I’ve been sporting the kind of pants that you find at the bottom of the clothing chain: sweatpants.
Surely, actors are the only people in the world who can work in sweatpants and still become anyone they want. Two things: sweatpants make me think that I can eat all the candy I want and they look awful with any outfit.
This morning, we were having our very first rehearsal onstage and I made the decision to wear my tightest skinny jeans for the occasion. After arriving at rehearsal, I inconspicuously paraded around the green room area for 20 minutes waiting to see if anyone would notice or acknowledge my efforts. No compliments were made. Thank goodness I had packed an extra pair of sweatpants.
Princess Diary Day 2: This Cinderella's Got Sole
My feet hurt. Being royalty in those glass slippers isn’t as metaphorically comfortable as I was lead to believe. During rehearsal today, I was ironically singing the duet I’m Not a Princess when it hit me: “Look at me, ma! I’m going to be a princess!”
In a few days, this theatre is going to be filled with the sweet little gleaming eyes of giggly girls gasping at the sight of Cindy’s ball gown. After 23 years, not only am I finally fulfilling my dreams of becoming royalty, but I’m also fulfilling the dreams of hundreds of little girls. They are counting on me. As Spider-Man’s grandpa has said: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Am I ready for the ultimate transformation into princesshood under the glow of a fresnel light? Will those little girls accept the idea of a princess with a pixie cut? There are hundreds of versions of the Cinderella story, and very soon, I will be joining the long line of actresses who have played her. In the end, I know I must trust the shoes I am stepping into. Why? Because Cinderella’s shoes have sole.
Princess Diary Day 3: A Case of the Potentially Fatal Giggles
I think I might die of laughter. Literally. Coming from a family of doctors, I was always brought up to be very precocious about my health. In rehearsals, I’ve been laughing, giggling, chuckling and snorting so hard with this exceptionally comically gifted cast, that I became worried that these fits of hilarity and merriment might be detrimental to my health. I consulted the very trustworthy Wikipedia and the results were shocking: “Death by laughter” exists!
I could not think of a more pleasant exit in life than what they call this rare case of fatal giggles. I’d be the happiest ghost to ever haunt the theatre! Will this princess be able to keep her composure to save her own life? I’ve started a laughing jar in my dressing room, and anytime I laugh a little too hard, I’m putting in $5 and donating the contents to the fictional Death by Laughter society for research. Or just buying a new crown.
Princess Diary Day 4: There is Always a CAN in DiDomenicantonio
As my humidifier is feverously buzzing, the clock hits 7:33 a.m. and my alarm rings. At 8, when I take out my retainers, I mean business. I start my warm-up ritual: Neti pot, oregano oil, saline spray, steamer, pastilles, olive oil, and I turn to Lola. Lola may be a yellow plastic pony with a pink mane, but don’t be fooled, she is a mascot of grace, beauty, strength and poise: Every quality a princess must possess.
When the clock reaches 8:30, I light my gluten-free, calorie-free scented candle as I stretch and let Liza Minnelli and Lady Gaga serenade me. By 9, it’s time for the most sacred part of my warm-up ritual: watching videos of Carol Channing, the larger-than-life first comedic lady of musical theatre. The rule is: Always be yourself, unless you can be Carol Channing. Then always be Carol Channing.
At 9:30, I remind myself: “There is always a CAN in DiDomenicantonio.” Today isn’t any normal day: It’s opening night.
Princess Diary Day 5: Has Anyone Seen Steffi's Real Life Prince Charming?
Tomorrow, I start my search of the kingdom. I was on the subway the other day on my way to rehearsal, and as I was sitting there in my sweatpants, I felt a pair of eyes watching me. As the subway came to a screeching halt at Museum station, the guy that had been sitting across from me got up and right before leaving the subway car, left a note on my lap that read: “You are so pretty.” And just like that he was gone.
After kissing so many frogs, had I just missed my Prince Charming at the chiming doors of the subway train? Just like the glass slipper, I will set out on a quest to find the man who matches the handwriting. It may take years to find him, but maybe fate, a fairy godmother, or even this published article in the National Post will bring us back together somehow. As I find my Prince Charming onstage, will I find him offstage?