The Paper Bag Princess

I’ve shared my love for the Orlando Repertory Theatre with you before. I’m always on the lookout for its next show. This summer, we got a postcard in the mail announcing the new season, including the first play of the year, “The Paper Bag Princess.”

The mailer had this description of the show on it:

In this charming musical, a dangerous dragon kidnaps the handsome prince on his wedding day and its fiery breath burns up the kingdom. The resourceful princess, whose beautiful dress was burned as well, finds a paper bag to wear and off she goes to rescue her love. Cleverly tricking the dragon, she enters the cave where the prince, still beautifully dressed, is held captive. When he questions her attire, she quickly realizes that maybe she should find someone who appreciates her bravery and intelligence, rather than outward appearances.

Um? Did I write this story? Because that’s pretty amazing. I was even more surprised to find out that it’s based on the book of the same name by Robert Munsch. You’re probably more familiar with his most famous book “Love You Forever.” I know a lot of parents HATE that book and in a way, I do too for its ability to reduce me to tears every single time I read it. But it also has a very personal connection to my family, so it’s on my list of favorites.

“The Paper Bag Princess” was first published in 1980. I swear, in this age of Bratz dolls and Monster High, I don’t know why I’m surprised any more to discover gems from 30 and 40 years ago. We’ve come a long way baby … from a time when girls were portrayed as strong, independent and smart. Sigh.

I was thrilled when one of my moms’ group friends had the great idea to set up a fun girls’ day out for the show. Our little group ended up being three 4-year-olds and their moms. For days and days before the show, E. kept asking me if it was time for the play yet (I really need to start waiting until an event is closer to tell her about it, although it’s fun to watch the anticipation build).

Finally, it was Play Day! And despite the 90-degree weather, E. wanted to wear her new fall clothes since Disney Jr. told her fall had started. Stupid learning.

E's fall clothes

Yes, she picked out the entire outfit, including the thick, striped tights, herself at Old Navy. She has her own style, my girl.

First, we went to lunch at Infusion Tea in College Park (one of my favorites), and listened to the three girls, who were all dressed up, have the most hilarious conversations about how excited they were for the show.

I haven’t even told you the best part yet — the main character in the show has the same name as E. and so did one of her little friends. And it was the third preschooler’s middle name. It was an E. extravaganza!

After lunch, we made the short drive to the Orlando Rep in Loch Haven Park (right next to the Orlando Science Center and the Orlando Museum of Art).

The Paper Bag Princess

Once inside, the girls even got to make their own paper bag dragons.

The Paper Bag Princess

After we made our crafts, we headed into the theater and discovered the seats would surround the “stage.”

The Paper Bag Princess

Pretty cool, huh? We weren’t allowed to take any pictures during the show, but here’s one of the full cast from the Orlando Rep.

The Paper Bag Princess

(SOURCE: Orlando Repertory Theatre)

E. loved every single second the show. The songs were great, the storyline was very funny and the messaging was pretty awesome. I wish I could remember the exact quote, but on her wedding day, Princess E’s mom, the queen, gives her some great advice about inner beauty and following your own journey in life. Surprisingly, that message has stuck with E. since the play and it’s one of the things we’ve discussed the most.

Well, that and E. still can’t understand exactly what “bum” means (I’ll explain more in a moment).

One of my favorite things about seeing shows at The Rep is the chance for the kids to get to meet the actors after the show. Our two Es made a beeline for Princess E.

The Paper Bag Princess

They also then lined up to meet some of the other actors, who signed her new copy of “The Paper Bag Princess.”

The Paper Bag Princess

I love that. I mean, how could the kids not get excited about drama and theater after getting the chance to actually meet the performers, still in full costume? So cool.

“The Paper Bag Princess” runs through this weekend, so go see it if you can! Tickets were $17 for adults and $11 for the kids, and the show ran about two hours, including a 15-minute intermission halfway through. Oh and here’s something I learned — there is a service charge if you order online but none if you order by phone. Save yourself a couple bucks! (Oh, and I should mention that I bought my tickets myself and I get nothing if you go see it — I just want to share the joy with you all!)

And if you can’t make it to the show and don’t yet have the book by Robert Munsch, I encourage all parents, particularly those of daughters, to check it out. It’s quickly become E’s favorite new bedtime story.

The Paper Bag Princess

The book is actually quite short, so I was surprised, in retrospect, with just how much the play’s producers added to the storyline. I think that background has made the book much more alive for E. There is one key scene that they kept almost entirely intact.

The Paper Bag Princess

Ahhh, it makes my girl power-loving heart soar.

Meanwhile, we’re already excited for our next show at the Rep!

Does your town have a good children’s theater? Have you ever read “The Paper Bag Princess?” What other books would you recommend?


  1. Rachel says

    I always get the best gift ideas for my 3 year old niece from you! The division of “boy” & “girl” toys makes me crazy when I shop for her. It’s much easier to just let you tell me about awesome toys/books to buy instead. :)

    • says

      Glad to help! Toy stores are disaster zones. E., who never plays princesses or Barbies at home (even though she has too many of them) suddenly turns into a princess-crazed person once she steps into a toy store. There’s a reason marketers do what they do — sadly, it works.

      I’ll be on the lookout for more girl power toys and books to suggest!

  2. says

    Aww, so cute! I am telling a few friends with girls E’s age about it. It looks adorable! At that age, I loved The Velveteen Rabbit, Shel Silverstein books, and Bernstein Bears. I re-read a lot of books from my childhood – the first two hold up, last ones do not! I actually tried to do a reading from The V Rabbit, but hubby vetoed it b/c he found it too depressing, lol. We settled on something from Muppets Take Manhatten instead, a childhood fav of us both :)

    • says

      Ha! Glad you clarified. I saw your first comment and I had to think about it for a moment but then I remembered you telling me before that you used “Muppets Take Manhattan” in your wedding. That’s still the biggest regret from ours — that we didn’t use the wedding song as part of our festivities. Love it so much.

      E. is ALMOST ready for Shel Silverstein. My younger brother recently gave her all his old SS books and I can’t wait to start reading them. She also has some of the Berenstein Bears. She actually has a lot of old books because we got a box from my in-laws basement that had all of my husband’s childhood books, so we’ve been reading a lot of Little Critters and old-school Sesame Street books. The Velveteen Rabbit was in there too but I haven’t brought myself to read it yet. So sad!

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