Ah, the new year… so fresh and clean, like a blank canvas upon which we can paint whatever we like… full of hope, and ripe for the fulfillment of our most daring dreams and desires.
As I think about 2014 and all of its endless possibilities, I can’t help but look back lovingly at 2013 and remember how wonderful it was. I was fortunate enough to be part of so many memorable events from the past year, but I wanted to share some of my top moments. Without further ado, and in no particular order, here is a list of 11 of my favorite kids’ parties and special events from 2013.
1. Little Mermaid at Seascape in Anaheim Hills, CA: Over the summer, one of our regular clients invited the “Little Mermaid” to entertain at her daughter’s 3rd birthday party. I’m proud to say that we have a handful of performers in our cast who have played the character at the various theme parks and, luckily, it worked out that I could take photos and video of our cast member in-action during her performance at the party. The kids were so great and our “princess” did a mertastic job; I was so happy to have captured this footage (click the picture below to watch the video).
2. Toddler Guitar Sing-Along for Lisa Loeb: In addition to being a children’s entertainer, I’m also a songwriter; I’ve had my music featured in shows like “Hellcats” on the CW, various reality TV programs, a couple indie films, and lots of wedding videos. But as cool as it is to hear a song you wrote playing in a movie theater, I have to say, when one of your songwriting idols calls you up to ask if you can perform at her child’s birthday party, it’s a pretty surreal experience! If you want to see what my live music performance for toddler and preschoolers is like, click here. Lisa Loeb can be found on Twitter, Instagram, and her official website.
3. Caroline’s 9th Birthday Party at Nine Zero One Salon, West Hollywood, CA: A lot of people wonder if we only do princess parties. While I would say that princess parties account for many of our performances, we have an incredibly versatile roster of talent at our fingertips and have provided everything from dessert catering to carnival rides. Personally, I thrive when I get to be creative and try new things, so when one of our regular clients whose daughter, having had plenty of princess parties from us in the past, was ready for a fancy “grown-up” soiree, I was excited to plan and execute her chic celebration. The party was complete with custom made “mock-tails” & drink menus which I designed, a bartender, a make-up artist, glitter tattoos, and a caricature artist all supplied by my company Papillons Entertainment. I’ll toast to that!
4. The Sea Princess for Susan Egan at Olivia’s Dollhouse Tearoom: This performance was such a full-circle moment for me, I’m not sure the utter amazingness of it will translate in writing, but I’ll do my best. You see, when I was a girl, I became obsessed with the Broadway soundtrack of “Beauty and the Beast”. I would listen to it every night as I fell asleep, singing along, trying to match my voice to the young actress on the recording. I got so good at impersonating her sound, my friends at school would ask me to “sing like Belle!” and I would.
Flash forward to Burbank, California, a little karaoke bar called Sardo’s. It was 2006, I think, and I was sitting at the bar with my friends when I heard a familiar voice singing. I said to my friends, kind of half-heartedly, “Sounds like Susan Egan.” Just then, I turned to look at the karaoke stage, and there she was: Susan Egan! It was her! I completely freaked because I just couldn’t believe that the “Belle of Broadway”, the woman who I would often credit as having “taught me how to sing,” was there, at my little karaoke bar! I began crying, like a total fangirl. The bar’s owner came up to me and asked what was wrong. I told him as much as I could muster until he just stopped me and said, “C’mon, let’s go meet her”. Seriously?!
So, the owner fetched Susan and I met her, tears and all, and I told her how listening to her recordings taught me how to sing, and she said the funniest thing: “Well, I hope you didn’t learn all of my bad habits.” And as if that wasn’t enough, to meet and hug and hysterically cry in front of your musical idol, she asked if I’d like to sing a song with her. And I did. And it was “The Rainbow Connection” because that was my favorite song from childhood and it was one of the most special moments of my life so far. I’ll always remember it.
I was able to keep in touch with Susan, because that’s the kind of person she is, and years later she even left a review on my iTunes music page (open it in iTunes to see Susan’s review). I told her I played princesses for kids and that if she ever needed a princess for one of her darling daughter’s parties, she should hit me up. And she said she would. And one day, she did. And it was wonderful. And we all lived happily ever after.
P.S. Ms. Egan maintains a humorous blog called Glamour & Goop and can also be found on Twitter. You might also check out the music video for her song “Nina Doesn’t Care”, in which she sings, ironically, “As she puts me through the paces, I try not to yell, but it’s hard when she prefers the Mermaid over Belle“.
5. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and The Sea Princess at Giggles n’ Hugs in Century City: One of the most fun things for us as children’s entertainers is when we get to work with each other. A new client contacted us in Autumn hoping to get three princesses together for her daughter’s dream 4th birthday party and happily we were able to make that wish come true. The party venue, Giggles n’ Hugs, was located at the Century City mall, and as we strolled through the shopping center, a friendly passerby snapped this sweet photo of us. Follow us on Instagram and search #papillonsentertainment for more fun pictures on the job.
6. “Rapunzel” for Kelly Oxford: “Rapunzel” is one of my favorite characters to cosplay, especially when a client books my upgraded acoustic guitar and singing performance. To be honest, although I knew of Kelly Oxford from Twitter (with over 500K followers, Kelly is best known for her refreshingly funny and snarky look at life and motherhood; she is also a New York Times best selling author), when she called me looking to book my musical “Rapunzel” performance, I thought nothing of it. It was only when I arrived at the party and was met outside by Kelly herself that it dawned on me who I was working for. For those of you who follow Ms. Oxford on Twitter or Instagram, you might recognize little Bea (pictured with “Rapunzel” below) who is often the subject of her photo posts, and upon whom my friend “Rapunzel” painted one of her favorite flower princess face-paintings of the year.
7. The Taste of Southlake, Fall 2013, in Pasadena, CA: I love crafts, I love balloon sculptures, and I love when I get to create all different kinds of face-painting designs. Which is to say why the Kid Zone at this event, of which I was in charge of coordinating, prepping, and organizing, and during which we met at least one hundred kids throughout the three hours of entertainment, made my list of favorites for the year. Here are a couple more shots of our work from the event that I found on Flickr.
8. “Cinderella” at Cecconi’s in West Hollywood, CA: This party was one of my favorites for a couple of reasons, the first being that I got to work with my amazing photographer/budding video-content-marketer partner, Jeff Drongowski of Drongo Photo. Another reason I loved this party has everything to do with the lovely Carolina Cavaliere, a reporter for TWC Deportes, and her husband, Andrea Cavaliere, the talented chef at Cecconi’s restaurant. Both the dining and decor at Cecconi’s is delightful; pay them a visit if you’re in the Los Angeles area.
9. The Local 600 IATSE Holiday Open House at The Cinematographer’s Guild in Hollywood, CA: Seems like December hit us faster than a reindeer in flight. Good thing the folks at the International Cinematographer’s Guild booked with us very early, way back in August of 2013 for their December 7th event! I had a blast putting this event together: all in all, we provided three pro face-painters, four skilled caricature artists, and one of our classically trained actors to play the part of “Ebenezer Scrooge” (to keep the Santa line moving and all the folks waiting in high spirits). It was a great way to kick off the holidays.
10. Jolly Holiday “Mary Poppins” at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour in Brea, CA: I absolutely adore everything old timey, so when my client in Orange County told me that she had to change the location of her party from her home to Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour, I was giddy with excitement. Farrell’s has an authentic turn-of-the-century charm that recalls the days of barbershop quartets and the Model T, but there was one problem: what I had originally planned to do for the birthday girl and her friends was a pop star dance and glamour party. A “pop star” would stick out like a sore thumb in a place like Farrell’s, there wouldn’t be any room to lead any dancing with the girls, and we certainly couldn’t blast One Direction throughout the restaurant. The solution? Let’s have a “jolly holiday with Mary!” With all of its delicate details, this costume is one of my absolute favorites, and it’s not hard to see how perfectly the character fit with the theme at Farrell’s. “Poppins” turned out to be, not only a huge hit with the birthday party and our client (you can read her review here), but with the other restaurant guests and the Farrell’s employees, too!
11. Christmas Eve in Manhattan Beach, CA: The 2013 holiday season found my immediate family all the way on the other side of the country, back on the East Coast, so spending Christmas with them, unfortunately, wasn’t an option for me. While I do miss my family around special times like these, I feel very lucky to have been able to spend this Christmas Eve with two great families in Manhattan Beach: a regular client of mine (between their parties and their friend’s kids’ parties, I think they’ve seen me as almost every princess in the fairy-tale collection!) wanted help passing out gifts and dinner time entertainment for their group of ten kiddos, and coincidentally enough, their friends just a few blocks away wanted to make the evening extra enchanting for their two young daughters before bedtime. I had been working on a new Santa’s Helper/50’s style “Elf” costume, which I finished just in time to debut at their celebrations. With all the crafts, dancing, singing, face-painting, and storytelling I did at both parties, I’m not sure who had more fun that night, me or the kids. Although I’ve been working as a children’s entertainer for more than twelve years, I still get great joy from creating magical moments for kids and families, and this night was filled with them.
In fact, the entire year was filled with magic, and I have all of our wonderful, trusting, generous, awesomely amazing clients to thank.
Here’s to 2014: may it be just as enchanting, ever as exciting, and may all your dreams come true!
~ Jenna B.
(“queen butterfly” and lead expert performer at Papillons Entertainment)
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