Imagine a fair maiden, growing up on a dairy farm in the rural north, showing cattle in competitions while balancing school, chores and other responsibilities around the farm. The farm girl also loves to perform.
Dance classes lead to first-place prizes in numerous competitions, which lead to studying dance in the city. The farm girl dances her way to a castle in the South, where she performs in parades and shows and eventually becomes an actual fairytale princess.
Sound like a riff on a Disney fairytale? It’s actually real.
Melissa Schlenvogt grew up on a farm in Port Washington, Wis. She and her sister began taking dance lessons to meet other children when she was 2. When she was 18 she moved to New York to study dance and took a job at Walt Disney World, in Florida, after graduation.
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Now she’s touring the world as Disney’s original royal songbird, Snow White, who takes the stage Saturday at Ovens Auditorium in “Disney Live! Mickey and Minnie’s Doorway to Magic.” Snow White is one of 25 characters including classic heroines Cinderella and Tinkerbell, as well as a younger generation’s stars, Rapunzel and Aladdin’s Genie.
“I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be able to see the world. (Moving) to New York when I was 18 was a huge culture shock, but I realized I loved it. I loved moving to a new city and absorbing the new culture,” says Schlenvogt, who has visited Asia and Australia.
Schlenvogt was already a fan of Disney when she got the job.
“We are definitely a Disney family,” she says. “We had Disney everything since we were little – Disney movies, Disney toothbrushes, Disney sheets.”
She graduated from theme parks to touring, playing Anastasia, Cinderella’s stepsister in “Three Classic Fairytales,” which took her to Myanmar after that country lifted its tourism ban.
While “Doorway to Magic” might suggest Disney is relying on technology to re-create some of its more fantastical moments, Schlenvogt says the show is more dependent on actual illusions and involving the audience through Tinkerbell’s magic words.
“The only thing that revolves around technology is Buzz Lightyear’s laser light show,” she explains.
“I have been in a lot of shows – off-Broadway, dance performances, singing revues. This is in my top shows (list). It is an extraordinary show that’s extremely interactive. It does bring the stories to life.”
Disney Live! Mickey and Minnie’s Doorway to Magic
When: 1, 4 and 7 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd.
Details: 800-745-3000; www.ticketmaster.com.