Tea Party Castle’s Princess

By KATHRYN ACREE

Tea Party Castle Princess

Princess Collette dazzles partygoers at Tea Party Castle. Photo courtesy Brinkerhoff family.

As her beautiful ball gown swishes past, Princess Collette smiles down at a collection of elementary school-aged girls enthralled in the scene before them. Collette begins singing “I’m Waiting for My Prince” when suddenly, Prince Charming himself is there. He waltzes Collette around the room to the shy giggles of onlookers.

Is this the latest historical romance novel?

Has Disney produced a new musical?

Have you been out in the summer heat too long?

None of the above. It is simply another day at Mt Laurel’s Tea Party Castle, and for Spain Park rising senior, Becky Brinkerhoff, it is a dream part-time job.

Having been involved in theatre productions since third grade, the Greystone-area music-lover knew she had found a perfect position when hired as Princess Collette.  “I’ve always loved working with children, and I sing constantly,” Brinkerhoff said. “Being part of the Tea Party Castle family fulfills all my loves— singing, acting and working with kids.”

Offering a unique party experience to princesses age 4 and older, the Tea Party Castle is a grand tearoom with chandeliers, fairytale wall murals, elegant tables, fine china, a stage and dance floor. Parties can include a tea party, fashion show, makeovers and more. Hostesses like Princess Collette and her singing maids entertain visitors to complete each fantasy- themed event.

“Beyond looking beautiful, each host princess speaks to visiting partygoers about the importance of having inner beauty as well,” Brinkerhoff said. “We talk about polite behavior and having table manners befitting an elegant princess.”

Never breaking the illusion of being in character as Princess Collette is key to Tea Party Castle events. “As soon as the princess and her maids enter the room, the whole fairytale begins,” Brinkerhoff said. “It is a wonderful time for a young girl to be a part of, and I enjoy getting to celebrate that time with the partygoers. Little girls grow up so fast these days, and this encourages a return to a simpler time, even if it is for only a few hours.”

Brinkerhoff has been with Tea Party Castle for one year, first performing as a maid before being named Princess Collette. Her love of music and theatre is a guide as she looks to her future career. She hopes to pursue a degree in vocal performance or musical theatre. “I would love to be able to go to a school like NYU that is known for it’s strong arts programs,” she said.

Active in Spain Park’s theatre department, Brinkerhoff also finds time for another passion- contributing to the promotion of human rights through Amnesty International. The soprano-singing honor student juggles a slew of AP classes while working her part-time schedule as a princess.

“I stay very busy, but I don’t even think of my time as Collette as even being a job,” Brinkerhoff said. “I’m the luckiest girl in the world because I get to do what I love.”

Tea Party Castle is located at 23 Olmsted Street in Mt Laurel. For party information, contact owner Darlene Self at 529-0081 or by email at teapartycastle@gmail.com.

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