In Jill's Words

I dedicate this site to my mother. She was a columnist and an author with the uncanny ability to find humor in the daily ins and outs of life. She faced every challenge with a witty optimism, including the cancer that ended her life too soon.

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Location: Boise, Idaho, United States

Saturday, February 21, 2015

On Playing a Princess at Almost Forty

Cinderella, more than likely, my last princess role

About eight or nine years ago, I played the role of Belle in Beauty and the Beast. I heard about another forty-something woman who wanted the part, and I scoffed. How could a forty-something even think that she would look young enough to play a Disney princess?

Well . . .

I'm not too far off from forty, and I just finished a run as Cinderella in Into the Woods. I think this is it, friends. My princess days are coming to an end.

I swear, I'm not trying to fish for comments about how young I look. I do know I appear youngish for my age. I usually attribute it to my shorter stature, lots of sunscreen, no fake baking, no smoking . . . anything . . . even those "funny" little cigarettes, not too much alcohol, and my grandmother's DNA. (My grandmother's claim to fame was, "No one can believe I am a day over eighty," when she was ninety-seven.)

In my late twenties, I was still getting carded when buying wine or, even more embarrassing, when going to a R-rated movie.

I must look older now because that never happens anymore.

I invited my colleagues to Into the Woods. In the e-mail, I said, "The truth is, I'm pushing forty, and this will probably be my last chance to play a Disney princess."

When the assistant principal asked if she could print it in the school newsletter, she said, "I'll leave out the part about pushing forty."

An amused mother of one my students said, "My daughter came home this afternoon and said we have to come to your show because, 'Mrs. Duggan said this is the last princess she is ever going to play.'"

One night in the dressing room, some of the girls in the production and I had the following conversation.

"How old are you?" one little girl asked me.

The other little girl said, "It's not nice to ask someone her age how old they are."

"Guess," I said.


"You girls are awesome."


"Closer, but higher."

Eventually, they reached the number thirty-seven.

"My mom's thirty-eight!" one of the little girls exclaimed.

"I know," I said with a sigh.

I'm not too worried about turning forty in general. But I am mourning the loss of playing Disney princesses, especially for the sake of my little nieces, my students at school, and all of the cute girls and boys who shyly approach me after the shows.

I know, I know. I'll be able to play the princesses' mothers soon.


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