Sarah Callahan Black spends her days hanging out with princesses.
Her love for children’s theater began when she was a performer with the now-closed Sprouts Musical Theater, a theater company where professional actors performed for children and families in Mount Pleasant. The theater’s owner, Stan Gill, wrote his own fairytale-based shows. For Black, this was a perfect fit because she has always loved Disney.
“I learned how complex it can be — performing for children,” she said. “They’re the most honest audience. If you’re not keeping them entertained, they will let you know.”
Now, after stints with Village Repertory Theater, 34 West Theater Company and others, Black has made a name for herself in children’s entertainment.
In the summer of 2018, Black opened Curiouser Entertainment, a local performance-based princess company. The company hires professional actors to create magical experiences for children at birthday parties, storytimes and local events like royal balls.
The company brings fun, magical experiences to children by introducing them to the arts and letting them explore their imaginative side. The performances she and her actors bring to the princesses only make the characters more real for children.
“I look at it as each character has their own complete personality,” said Black. “I want to make the effort to have each of the characters sounding different, walking different, saying different things … It becomes really magical and special when you’re fully embodying each character.”
Before the pandemic, Black considered stepping back from performing as a princess to take a more administrative role in her company. “I was ready to be more of an assistant at the birthday parties and to just do the business side of things,” she said.
Since she and her team weren’t able to attend in-person at the beginning of the pandemic, Black hosted virtual events like live storytimes on Facebook and personal video messages. These offerings are popular with parents and kids alike.
“It [the virtual events] reignited my love of performing for kids. So, I’m back to performing full time.”
Black says she spends the most time with The Snow Queen. The queen and her sister are among the most requested princesses. Performing as The Snow Queen hasn’t always been easy for Black.
“At first, she’s very shy and can be intimidating … How do you make such a shy character fun for kids? Obviously the kids were connecting with this character because they kept asking for her, so now I really enjoy playing her and how magical she is.”
Of course, sometimes kids see through the magic, asking, “Are you real?”
“At first that made me so sad, like we were doing something wrong. But it’s not that. I think this is such a wonderful thing for [children] to do … I want them to stay believing in magic, but it’s good for them to be encouraged to ask questions and to problem solve. This [experience] can impact them in many ways.”
Overall, she hopes each child at a princess event feels special.
“They should feel like the princess or superhero wants to come to their birthday party … I really hope these experiences stick with them in some way,” she said.
Working with children at events has always been the joy of the business for Black. “If you do this, it has to be because you love and want to do it … It’s being in front of the kids, working with them, and seeing how it impacts them.”
Though she may spend most of her time with the princesses, Black finds time to visit some of her other favorite characters through cosplay.
“I was the kid who had the costume closet in the playroom and was always dressing up. Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. It’s crazy [starting to cosplay] took this long.”
Her first cosplay was at the 2015 HeroesCon in Charlotte. On the first day, she attended as Harley Quinn and on the second day, she went as Spider Gwen.
“I was so nervous because I’d never done this before, but I remember when we walked in to this huge place, it was like a warm hug … I felt so embraced and people were happy to see us [as our characters],” she said.
Throughout the pandemic, she has found success in sharing her cosplays on Instagram and TikTok, where she has amassed large followings. On TikTok, where some of her videos have gone viral, she has over 100,000 followers.
While she hopes she continues to grow on social media, Black also wants to keep cosplay as one of her personal creative outlets.
“Funny how you can so easily forget how important it is just to have a hobby. Not everything needs to be something that makes you money. You can do something just for fun.”
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