When Bri Savidge was 5, she went trick or treating in her Independence neighborhood as Cinderella.
Now, she is donning the gown of everyone’s favorite princess as she reads to elementary school children in a program that coincides with Starlight Theatre’s most recent production of the fable in which a young woman overcomes many obstacles to meet her charming prince
“This was one of the most impactful and meaningful experiences of my life,” said Savidge, a 2016 graduate of Truman High School who is a junior journalism major at the University of Missouri.
“This summer, I am working as an intern in the marketing department at Starlight Theatre and we were talking about ways to promote “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.” Someone suggested that we get someone to dress like Cinderella and have them go read to elementary school kids -- boys and girls.”
“It sounded like a great idea, and then someone said, ‘Hey, the intern is blonde. She could be Cinderella.’ And the rest is history.”
Savidge recently met a large group of children at the North Kansas City Public Library and immediately had a captive audience.
“It was just so amazing,” said Savidge, who was surprised by the students’ response to her arrival. “I had no idea what to expect. But when I got there, and started reading, I could see all the students’ eyes shift in my direction.”
“Being able to read to the children was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that touched my heart greatly. I just loved seeing the looks on their faces and promoting that next generation of literacy and female leadership that is so special to me, and I was just touched by the whole experience.”
After reading to those students, she realized that in a small way, a young girls’ dreams of being a princess came true.
“It was just the coolest moment,” Savidge said. “I know why people go into teaching. That moment was a game-changer for me. When I was a little girl, trick or treating as Cinderella, I dreamed about growing up and being a princess.”
“And now, 15 years later, I’m Cinderella and really making an impact in the lives of young people.”
And that impact went beyond the North Kansas City Public Library.
“During the run of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” at Starlight I also dressed up like Cinderella and visited with little kids and their parents before the show,” she said. “It was hot -- and I was dripping wet -- but it was a great experience.”
“And when you’re impacting the lives of young people -- especially all the kids I read to at the library -- you feel good about the future, about the impact you can make. Literacy is so important, and I heard little kids saying they wanted to read ‘Cinderella’ on their own, and that made me so proud.”
Savidge’s mother is Beth Savidge, who recently retired as the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Independence School District.
“I know my mom has gone to many of the elementary schools in Independence and read to students, and she always talks about it and talks about how much fun she has and the impact you can make with just a few students,” Savidge said, “and that’s just how I felt.
“By learning to read, and enjoying reading, the social, economic and every day environment can change -- change for the better -- for students. And the best thing about that is that they are having so much fun while they’re doing it.”