A Cinderella Story: Dream Upon a Princess Brings Magic to Casper and Beyond
It’s a Saturday morning and the scene is chaotic. There are wigs being passed around and songs are being sung while the laughter of a multitude of girls resonates in the air. The girls of Dream Upon A Princess have a birthday party to attend in an hour and, as a wise old rabbit once said, they’re late for a very important date.
Faith goes from girl to girl, making sure hair and makeup and hearts are prepared. She shares laughter and smiles with these girls, her girls and she knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that starting this company was the best decision of her life.
What families see at a birthday party that they’ve hired Dream Upon A Princess to perform at is a slick, professional presentation that is designed to leave children with a lasting memory. What they don’t see is all of the work that goes on behind the scenes.
Once upon a time, as the story goes, there was a girl with a dream.
For Faith Conaway, owner and operator of Dream Upon A Princess, owning her own business wasn’t a dream she had…until it actually happened. What Faith dreamt about, even as a little girl, was performing and entertaining people. Now, as a 30-year-old small business owner, she gets to do just that.
Dream Upon A Princess is a multi-faceted entertainment company that specializes in bringing princesses, super heroes, pirates, mermaids and more to life for birthday parties and special events.
Conaway wasn’t always the driving force behind this Disney-inspired performance troupe, however. At first, she was just following her dream of being a performer.
“I was actually accepted to be a performer for the Disney World College program, but I turned it down because I wanted a degree in something besides business, which is really the only degree they offered,” she said.
Instead of joining the Disney family, Conaway moved to Duluth Minnesota for school. It was there that she met a kindred spirit who had started her own version of Dream Upon A Princess, though she wasn’t calling it that. Conaway was one of her first performers and she fell in love with the entire process but after only performing for 2 parties, she moved back home to Casper Wyoming. She started to work as a fitness instructor and a nanny, amongst other things, but her time in Duluth stayed in the back of her mind. She just couldn’t let it go.
Finally, after about 6 months, she asked her friend in Duluth if she could bring her idea to Casper. The friend said yes, but Conaway was still unsure if this was something she really wanted to pursue
“I wait and I think about things before I decide because once I decide something, I put 100 percent in,” she admitted.
Well, she finally decided that this was a dream worth following and just like that, the genie was out of the bottle.
The first thing she needed, she decided, was a name. She did an extensive amount of research and weighed many different options before finally settling on Dream Upon A Princess. In regards to the meaning behind the name, Conaway said she decided on that one because “we want to fulfill dreams. We want to make dreams come to life. We want to show that any girl can go out there and achieve her dreams if she fights for it.”
Before she could do any of that, however, she needed to turn a “me” into a “we.” To do that, she enlisted the help of friends and family, as well as the Kelly Walsh High School music and drama departments. After an extensive recruitment and audition process, Conaway believed she had the team she needed to take Casper to the 2nd star from the right and straight on ‘til morning.
Once Conaway decided hers was a dream worth pursuing, and once she gathered her team, that’s when the real work started. The list of things that she needed to do in order to guarantee Dream Upon A Princess was a success would put the list of chores Cinderella had to do while everybody else was at the ball to shame. She had to register her business as an LLC, she had to purchase costumes, she had to come up with the curriculum and activities, she had to do some guerilla marketing, develop a Facebook page, study study study, take a deep breath, train her actors and more. Wishes upon stars work sometimes, but you still have to work to make your dreams come true and that’s exactly what Conaway and her group of dreamers did and, surprisingly, there were very few kinks to work out.
As with any group of actors, there are sure to be egos the size of the whale that swallowed Pinocchio. With Conaway's actors, however, there are very few problems. Most everybody involved are there because they believe in what she is doing; they believe that a little bit of light in the world can change somebody’s life and they believe that, once in a while, dreams are allowed to come true.
In fact, the only real problems that occur come from the unpredictability of working with children, according to Conaway.
“The hardest thing about the job is just being prepared and being in character the whole time,” she admitted. “Kids ask you lots of questions and you have to know how to answer them. Sometimes kids say awkward things like ‘how did you feel when your parents died?’ and you have to come up with something on the spot and you have to think of your character’s mindset.”
The ability to deal with questions like that comes from hours of training that Conaway puts her actors through. Her group is constantly evolving, as are the activities and events they perform at.
In just the 8 short years that Dream Upon A Princess has existed, they’ve already put on hundreds of birthday parties, Halloween carnivals, princess balls, etiquette classes, mermaid lessons, and more.
Community members have undoubtedly seen the Dream Upon A Princess crew around Casper. They have participated in numerous events at the David Street Station, The Lyric and more. This is by design, as Conaway sees how vital Downtown Casper is becoming to the community.
“I am so impressed by Casper’s community coming together to really revive our downtown area,” she said. “It’s such a welcoming venue for families, and businesses are stepping up and creating events and activities to nurture our community. I love getting to volunteer and being a part of these fun activities!”
Conaway has since moved to Helena Montana, with her husband and two children. But she still runs the business in Casper, and has even created Dream Upon a Princess Montana, as if she wasn't busy enough.
Conaway's goals, she stated, are to be a vessel that helps bond this community even more, to bring a little bit of light into her tiny pocket of the world and to show that life doesn’t have to be as tangled as we make it.
More than anything, though, Faith says her goal is to show all of us that “you can do anything if you put your whole heart and mind into it. I believe that, a hundred percent. Nobody gets things handed to them, but if you work hard and you do everything you can to achieve something, I know you can do it.”
As her performers gather in the living room of her parents’ house, the house that she grew up in, indeed her first stage, Faith picks up a character’s wig and thinks back on the past 8 years and what she’s been able to accomplish in such a short time. She’s built a business from the ground up, she’s given dozens of people the opportunity to perform professionally, and she’s given Casper a new entertainment group to book for events. Faith has fulfilled a dream she didn’t even know she had, until she had it.
But at this moment, standing before her actors, her team, her family, none of that matters because for the next hour, she gets to live her first dream; the dream she had since she was a little girl. When she puts that wig on she’s no longer Faith Conaway, business owner; she transforms into Rapunzel or Elsa or Cinderella and she’s not thinking about booking her next event or which actors will be available for which party. For the next hour or two, the only goal Faith has is making sure that wishes are granted, dreams are dreamt and memories are made. More than anything, she wants to help a room full of children believe, if only for just a little bit longer, that we can all live happily ever-
Well, you know the rest.