The popularity of Brittain’s Princess Parties (BPP) has proven that no one is ever too old for princesses. The Litchfield-based, entertainment company was founded by Brittain Osborne in March 2018, and specializes in birthday parties, catering to children and adults alike.
The performers are regularly booked at a variety of venues from children’s parties and assisted living facilities to large-scale community and corporate events. While the local company does not offer licensed or copyrighted characters, Brittain’s Princess Parties currently offers nine princesses, the Ice Queen, the Ice Princess, the Mermaid Princess, Cinderella, Beauty, the Wayfinder Princess, Rapunzel, Tinker Fairy, the Scottish Princess, and the Arabian Princess.
Each princess is based on popular stories found in the public domain.
Brittain’s Princess Parties’ founder, Osborne, is a lifelong actress. She grew up in rural Washington and was introduced to the stage at an early age by her mother.
“I grew up in a strong theatre community and my mom suggested I take up theater as a child to help with my shyness. I loved it. I fell in love with being on stage and my mom was right, taking on characters really allowed me to open up in a way that I couldn’t as Brittain.”
While she loved to make up stories and play dress up as a child, Osborne was never particularly interested in princesses. It wasn’t until she was an adult, working as an actress, and kept getting type cast into the role that she discovered her niche.
“Friends, family, even strangers would comment how similar to a princess I was, from voice to mannerisms,” said Osborne with an offhanded laugh.
Osborne was recruited for the track team at Greenville University, where she met her own prince charming, Litchfield native Tim Osborne. A thespian at heart, Osborne knew she wanted to study theatre and graduated with degrees in theatre and public relations.
After college Osborne returned to her home state of Washington. She settled in Seattle, where she found steady acting work in live theater, commercial and film. Osborne has performed in Seattle, Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago and Orlando. It was in Seattle that she was scouted by Seattle Party Princess Productions, the biggest princess entertainment franchise in the nation.
“I underwent princess training and started performing at parties every weekend. I mostly played the ice princess, the mermaid princess and of course Cinderella,” laughed Osborne, who bears a striking resemblance to the fictional princess, in both looks and demeanor.
She later moved to Dallas, TX, with her college sweetheart, Tim. With the move, Osborne transferred to Dallas Party Princess Productions where she took on new responsibilities. In addition to performing Osborne took a position on the entertainment company’s booking and marketing team. The newly married couple decided to relocate to Litchfield, where they would be closer to his parents, Paul and Michelle Osborne.
“We were thrilled to be closer to our family but there were no opportunities for actresses. I also noticed that the region was lacking in high-quality (live) entertainment. There were really no other entertainment companies in the area and the ones located in St. Louis, MO, were unwilling to travel to Central Illinois,” Osborne explained. “It was both my own need to entertain and the lack of entertainment companies that fueled my resolve to start my own business.”
She began dedicating her spare time, to building her own entertainment company. However, Osborne quickly found that developing a business plan and launching a company on her own was not her only obstacle.
“It was challenging in the beginning because the concept behind Brittain’s Princess Parties was relatively unheard of in rural Illinois. In larger cities, hiring entertainers is pretty common, especially for children’s birthday parties but I really had to educate people on what I was doing and the quality of services I could provide,” Osborne explained. “I started out offering free services at local libraries. I made a commitment to myself early on that I was not going to worry about numbers. I directed all of my focus into providing high-quality services and making sure every child I interacted with left feeling special.”
Osborne’s determination paid off. She quickly expanded from a one-woman company to employing four local actresses and servicing a 50 mile radius from Litchfield, including Glen Carbon, Maryville, Troy, Greenville, Springfield, O’Fallon and the metro east.
In addition to Osborne, actresses include Anastasia Baird, Victoria Fisher, Eden Edwards and Sarah Brannon. Each of the performers has extensive acting experience and experience working with children.
“Casting is definitely difficult, but I have pulled together a great group of women. Like all acting jobs, I audition performers before hiring them but I really look for people who love children,” Osborne explained. “Being a princess is more than memorizing lines, it is just as much about having the ability to subtly take charge and set an atmosphere.”
Like all jobs, performing as a princess is far from just fun and games for the entertainers. Each actress is properly vetted and undergoes a thorough training process. The princesses are trained to stay in character and add special touches to every event by memorizing names and other personal details pertaining to their charges. Those that pass the initial audition are required to successfully complete three levels of training.
BPP’s first level of training covers logistical aspects, such as what to do at birthday parties and how to answer questions. The second level is a training party where the new employee attends as a secondary character to learn alongside more veteran princess performers. The third level focuses on character integrity as speaking and mannerisms are key aspects to providing a magical experience.
The type of services differentiate between the specific event, size and length of time. Upon arrival the princess will make a grand (royal) entrance. At each party they present the birthday child with a tiara, sing “Happy Birthday” and take time to pose for individual and group photos with the attendees, making sure each child has a memorable experience. Other entertainment aspects include an interactive story time, sing-a-longs, dancing and face painting. Special add-ons are also available for parties over 90 minutes.
“Generally all of the children in attendance are entranced by our princesses. It really is like having their favorite fairy tales come to life,” said Osborne when asked about additional birthday party services. “But, we appeal more to little girls than little boys. It is important to me that Brittain’s Princess Parties provides a magical experience for every guest, which led us to offer treasure hunts. Parents that are worried that the boys in attendance will be bored can add-on a treasure hunt package. The princess will bring a treasure chest filled with age-appropriate toys, enough for every child in attendance. All fairy tales have a little adventure and the treasure chests brings the children right into the fray.”
Brittain’s Princess Parties also offers glitter hair makeovers, where the princesses will style and glitter the little attendees hair. Prices vary between $100 to $375 dependent on how many performers and the type of event they are booked for, not including add-ons or travel fees for those 20 miles or more outside of downtown Litchfield.
Osborne hopes to steadily build Brittain’s Princess Parties, adding performers of all ethnicities and expanding to offer additional characters geared towards boys.
“Everyone at Brittains Princess Parties loves working with children. The world forces children to grow up so fast, we just want to preserve their innocence and encourage their imaginations to flourish,” Osborne explained. “A princess’s job is to teach creative thinking, kindness, generosity, friendship and self worth. Brittain’s Princess Parties loves being the ones to impart this message at each birthday party we attend. I am so grateful to everyone who has taken a chance on us, especially in the early days. We wouldn’t be here without you.”
Brittain’s Princess Parties has several events lined up this year, including working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. BPP also plans to host an invite only, surprise birthday party for the Ice Princess in June. To learn more about Brittain’s Princess Parties follow their page on Facebook or visit their website at www.brittainsprincessparties.com.