Independence residents Dick and Marge Troeh are entering their seventh year as cast members of the KC Renaissance Festival. The Renaissance Festival opens for its 34th season in Bonner Springs, Kan., on Sept. 4 and runs through Oct. 17 on weekends, Labor Day and Columbus Day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Independence residents Dick and Marge Troeh are entering their seventh year as cast members of the KC Renaissance Festival. The Renaissance Festival opens for its 34th season in Bonner Springs, Kan., on Sept. 4 and runs through Oct. 17 on weekends, Labor Day and Columbus Day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visit www.kcrenfest.com or call 913-721-2110 for more information, including ticket prices.
Both Dick and Marge are 75 years old, making them the oldest active KC Renaissance Festival cast members. “We are Grandma and Grandpa to everybody,” Marge says. “We’re all family out there.”
This year’s festival theme is “Once upon a time there was you.” Each day of the festival is portrayed as the day after Cinderella’s ball as the Prince searches for his Cinderella. “Every day ends up differently because of the patrons,” Marge says. “Every woman is invited to try on that slipper.”
1 What sparked your interest in the Renaissance Festival?
Marge: We went first as patrons and took our family. We found it very family-friendly. We enjoyed the period, the arts and crafts, the food and the entertainment.
Dick: I’m somewhat of a history buff, and I’ve certainly enjoyed the Renaissance history. After our daughter (Karen Troeh, who is entering her 14th season of participating) became involved as a cast member, we went more frequently, and then decided to join the cast seven years ago.
2 Describe your respective characters and how you both transition your mindsets in portraying them. (Marge is portraying the Fairy Godmother, and Dick is portraying Nostradamus.)
Marge: I am an interesting character because as Fairy Godmother, I have human life. I am the jeweler of the town, but I am also very magical in my powers. I find that getting dressed in my costume helps me to put on the character. I’ve spent a lot of time in advance coming up with my story about who I am, my likes, my family, my history and those kinds of things, and having thought about that, it’s pretty easy to get into character and to stay into character.
Dick: (I grew) the first beard I’ve ever grown. We had played the Duke and Duchess of Kent for several years, and I thought it was time for a new role and thought of Nostradamus, who was a physician and practiced medicine in the 16th century. (Dick is a retired physician.) I, Nostradamus, was first an apothecary and then a physician. The predictions for which I am so well known were just the last few years of my life. At the festival, I am attempting to present an understanding of medicine in the 16th century, with a little predicting on the side.
3 What are among your favorite aspects about participating in the festival?
Marge: The people – both the cast and the patrons who come. Because I’m Fairy Godmother, I get to really interact with the children, and it’s so magical to be able to talk to them and fulfill dreams. I always ask them to make some promises to me that have to do with kindness, compassion and respect. It’s just fun to be with them. ... I have grown so much in terms of my comfort level with people and my ability to adapt to different situations. It keeps me young.
Dick: The cast, in particular, has become like an extended family for which we act pretty much as the grandma and grandpa to a lot of the younger cast. The interaction with the patrons who will play is particularly enjoyable, entertaining and educational.
4 What role do costuming and historical accuracy play into the Renaissance Festival?
Marge: We are somewhat theatrical, but we try to be as accurate as we can. Part of our training is in the fabrics, the colors, what would be appropriate to our class in life. Beneath (my costume), I’m wearing my chemise and my bloomers. We attempt to give people the experience of what a village harvest fair would have been like. It’s the most important day of the year because in that day and age, everyone worked very hard all the time, and this is a day to celebrate a good harvest.
Dick: The Kansas City Renaissance Festival is known for having some of the most authentic costumes of festivals around the country. Wearing the costume helps one get very much into the character. My costume, for example, is a scholar’s robe with a hat, which is as described from the Montpellier College of Medicine in southern France in the 1500s.
5 Even if they’ve never been before, what are several reasons you would encourage residents to attend the Renaissance Festival?
Marge: It’s a way to get a flavor of the time period and to be thoroughly entertained, whether you like jugglers, fire eaters, madrigal singing groups, magicians or want to watch someone make a ceramic pot.
Dick: It’s both very entertaining and educational and lets one enter, in fantasy, living and playing in the 16th century.
Marge: And absolutely beautiful grounds... just rolling hills and wooded and flowers in bloom. There isn’t another experience like it because it’s one where you can be as involved as you want.