LYDHURST, N.J. — Hear ye, Hear ye, there’s a new ruler on the throne. It’s a queen, not a king and the move is breaking a 34-year-long tradition at Medieval Times.
Opening night was Thursday evening for the premiere of the dinner theater’s new show titled “Sovereign.”
Queen Dona Maria Isabella is now the lead role, played by five different actresses.
PIX11 spoke with Erin Zapcic, one of the five, as she prepared for the big show.
“Dona Maria Isabella is the sole ruler of the land, she is a strong but kind ruler and even though her authority can sometimes be questioned, she quickly asserts herself as the respected ruler she is,” Zapcic said.
Zapcic, a New Jersey native has been with the show for seven years.
“It’s very humbling, it’s an opportunity I don’t take for granted. I’ve been with the company just shy of seven years. To see such a huge change, it’s really amazing. We knew it was time and we had a lot of guest feedback saying they wanted to see women featured more prominently in the show so give the people what they want and we all want, it’s time,” added Zapcic.
It seems timely given the #metoo campaign that sparked a movement and a societal change of women speaking out against harassment and seeking equality. But according to creative director Leigh Cordner, this new show has actually been in the making for years.
“It was actually the president of the company that said in the meeting, he looked at me and said what about a queen, I said you know what, we could do that,” Cordner said.
Medieval Times takes pride is having a large female staff throughout its nine castles around the country – the new show starring the Queen has premiered at three locations including Lyndhurst tonight. It will be rolled out to all locations soon.
“We’re pretty progressive, we have female falconers, female horse trainers,” Cordner said.
Cordner said in creating the character, he wanted to make sure she didn’t have to justify her reign. He thought a lot about Elizabeth I of England and wanted his Queen in his story to be just as strong. Make no mistake, this queen is no damsel in distress.
“The best way to demonstrate her inner strength and her nobility was to allow conflict to happen around her and have her settle it. When she enters the head of the procession as the host on horseback, it’s a pretty big moment and I’m hearing the young girls in the audience are loving that too,” Cordner said.
Fans of the show, especially the little girls we met tonight, seem to be enjoying what they see.
“Especially little girls, I want them to look at the Queen and say this is something I can be one day, whether it’s literally a queen or to be a woman in position of power and not take their own power for granted and not feel they can’t embrace their own dreams and go after what they want,” Zapcic said.
“Kids are being raised differently today, they’re receptive to seeing someone just like mom in a role like that so I think they should walk away understanding you don’t have to be a trendsetter or anything or following a trend, but I just think its reflective of what’s going on today and we just happen to be riding the crest of the wave,” Cordner said.
The Medieval Times arena in Lyndhurst seats 1,300 people. The new show “Sovereign” starring the Queen, is expected to have a multi-year run.