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Local Play Has a New Twist on the Traditional Fairytale

Pegasus Playhouse

Theatre company Pegasus Playhouse has debuted their first play—Too Many Princesses—which was written and directed by Eugene resident Scott Frazier-Maskiell.

Frazier-Maskiell started Pegasus Playhouse in January. One of the reasons he founded the children’s theatre company was to perform new works that better represent the community. He says the idea to write Too Many Princesses came to him two years ago.

Asked Frazier-Maskiell, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was this place where every girl was born a princess and little by little they got bored with their lives and wanted to do something different? And what that would do to the community and how that would challenge things.”

The children’s fable, complete with tap dancing and singing, tackles cultural stereotypes such as gender roles, male toxicity, and relationships.

“There’s a boys and girls song where they talk about what’s expected of boys, what’s expected of girls, and they kind of do a battle,” said Frazier-Maskiell. “And trust me, when I did that song with these kids—no matter how young they were—they understood like, ‘Oh, I get this.’ There is kind of an inner-competition, societally, between boys and girls all the time and there is a bit of tension there that’s not really addressed.”

The play confronts gender stereotypes when some of the princesses want to pursue careers that are traditionally for males such as a pilot and a veterinarian.

Frazier-Maskiell says the boys in the town are villains. He mentions that Cedric and Princess Betina are teased for their relationship that is merely a friendship, and not romantic. His 11-year-old daughter Story plays Princess Luna in the play. The father and daughter confirmed that this relationship dynamic was based off of one of her friendships.

“I have a friend named Tristen and sometimes people ask if we’re siblings, but sometimes also ask if we’re dating,” said Story Frazier-Maskiell. “And it’s really annoying because we’re not. We’re like brother and sister.”

Credit SCOTT FRAZIER MASKIELL / Pegasus Playhouse
Pegasus Playhouse
The cast performs on their opening night.

Frazier-Maskiell also included a character who has a disability. Princess Samantha is on the autism spectrum. He says there’s a song portrayed through the mind of Princes Samantha that explains how she only communicates through her drawings.

The main conflict in the story occurs because the King and Duke neglected to maintain the infrastructure of the bridge, which begins to break just as the circus is coming to town. The princesses must then fix the bridge, and it’s Princess Samantha who is able to solve the problem.

“She in her own mind has been drawing these drawings the whole time—you see her with a notebook—and she’s solved the bridge engineering problem and finally shows the king like here, ‘Look at this,’ and she basically saves the day,” said Frazier-Maskiell. “But her communication is different. And I just wanted to show that her communication is different but no less valid.”  

The 21 children and nine adults in the play rehearsed for six weeks, practicing a total of 48 hours. Frazier-Maskiell says the performers have learned lessons they can apply to their everyday lives.

“That they’re empowered to bring up this thing about boys versus girls,” said Frazier-Maskiell. “They’ll be empowered to say like, ‘We’re just friends.’ To be empowered to say, ‘Do not make fun of them. Just because they’re doing something differently does not mean they are not valid.’”

The final showings for Too Many Princesses are this Saturday, October 5.

Elizabeth Gabriel is a former KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She is an education reporter at WFYI in Indianapolis.