Twenty-eight children politely wait in a semi-circle. Their patience is rewarded when a costumed man arrives: the Fairy Tale Teller (Douglas Coventry) is here to tell a story with the help of his friends, the Storybook Princesses of Sandman Book Company. The kids cheer as he introduces Maid Marian, Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, Princess Ana and her sister the Snow Queen.
But when he announces the fairy Tinkerbelle, the doorway remains empty. He calls a second time - and a third. Anxious boys and girls strain to see behind the curtain, hoping for a glimpse of their favorite character. Desperate to avoid disappointment, the Fairy Tale Teller enlists the children's help. "She must be stuck! We have to call her together!" The other princesses and many watching parents join the children's cries of, "Tinkerbelle! We do believe in fairies! Tinkerbelle!"
Of course, Tinkerbelle responds to the classic plea, and she is revealed to have been hiding in the back of the audience all along. Sporting a four-foot wingspan and a poofy blonde bun, cosplayer Makala McClannan perfectly portrays the spunky pout expected from the character.
After the show, guests line up to meet the characters. The costumed volunteers greet each child by name, pose for photographs, and give away stickers. Upon discovering that one girl is celebrating her birthday, they break into song.
This might sound like an expensive children's party, but it's actually a free event sponsored by Sandman Book Company. Coventry (who runs a children's theater program in Fort Myers) directs the monthly event. The cast of characters varies with each show, but Tinkerbelle is a fan favorite and McClannan returns as often as her schedule allows.
For more info, visit The Princess Page.