She wore a flowing pink dress and flowers in her hair — lilies and poinsettas. She sang songs, danced with kids — the audience at the C.H. Booth Memorial Library was about 25 kids from 3 to 7 — and read to them from stories featuring her namesake.
"And I thought, 'You know, this is nice. This is definitely meant to be,'" she says. "From there it snowballed, and I've been busy ever since."
Dolzall is a Newtown-based professional Fairytale Princess, the sole owner / operator of the newly formed Fairytale Memories Character Entertainment. You may have seen her greeting children outside the Toy Tree at the Passport to Sandy Hook event, or joining the Newtown Kindness tent at the Pumpkin Festival.
"There's always nerves," she says about her performance. "You want to make sure everything goes perfect. You want happy customers and happy kids. You want to make sure it goes right. But there's also an excitement that comes with performing."
Dolzall currently performs as Rapunzel and the Little Mermaid — soon, she'll be adding Tinkerbell to her repertoire. The characters she uses are in the public domain, allowing her to avoid conflicts with companies like Disney who are protective over licensing.
Dolzall has lived in Newtown since second grade. As a kid, she found her first love: dance. Starting with tap and jazz, she came into her own with Irish folk dancing. She toured for three years with high-profile dance troupes, performing Riverdance and The Lord of the Dance around the world before coming home to Newtown last year. She now works at the Gray School of Irish Dance when she's not in character.
It was a chance encounter on one of those tours that opened her eyes to a world she hadn't known existed. While chatting with her roommate's sister, she learned some people could actually make a living playing the role.
"Now I'm finding out there's so many," she says.
She began ordering costumes — some from online shops like Etsy, some locally, like from Danbury-based costume designer Brenda Renfro. She takes great care in assembling an image to match the pristine picture in kids' imaginations, and doesn't worry too much about the cost.
"They're all custom made, so it's going to be a good investment," she says. "You want to make sure the quality you put out is really high, and is going to create the right image."
"Never Break Character"
What does it take to be a professional fairytale princess? Dolzall tries to never break character when she's chatting with kids. She won't use her cell phone, and will even speak to parents in-character if little ears are present.
"That's the number-one priority," she says. "If a kid sees me talking about something that character wouldn't talk about, it may break the illusion. I try not to even eat food or drink water! They have such a perfect image in their heads — they know what each character should be like. If they see me doing something they might question, 'Am I real? Is the character real?"
She has to be careful when performing at birthday parties — she never knows what questions kids will toss her way, and she has to think on her feet to give the appropriate answer.
"If there's other characters in the story, they may ask where they are — I have to say they couldn't make it today!" she says. "If I'm Rapunzel, I say I rode here on my horse today — I pretend I don't know what a car is. You have to take yourself back to when that character would have existed."
And between birthday parties, special events and appearances everywhere from Booth Library to Kidologie, she expects the "princess gigs" will only grow from here.
"Fairytales are pretty timeless," she says. "And we'll always have a desire to have princesses."
(By the way, if you'd like to get in touch with Fairytale Memories, you can find Christina through her Facebook Page.)