By Amanda Marrazzo
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Before Queen Dona Maria Isabella, the lead role in the dinner theater’s 35-year history has always gone to a man, the king.
There is a new ruler in town, and she is not backing down.
For the first time in more than three decades, a queen is in charge of Schaumburg’s castle.
“I love it, it’s awesome,” said 11-year-old Jacob Serrano, wearing his crown from the crowd, waving his yellow flag and declaring the scene before him “revolutionary.”
Jacob was present last month when Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament in Schaumburg debuted its new show featuring Queen Dona Maria Isabella in the lead. Before this, the lead role in the dinner theater’s 35-year history has always gone to a man, the king.
The updated narrative has aptly landed, if not by design, in a cultural moment of women’s marches, #metoo reckonings and female superheroes, something Jacob’s 12-year-old brother Jeremiah also picked up on.
The role reversal “goes along with modern-day people wanting equality for men and women,” he said.
It’s “important for the boys to appreciate that women can hold same roles as men,” said their father, Juan Serrano.
The show’s director, Leigh Cordner, of Orlando, spent a year-and-a-half rewriting the script for the show, which will be performed at all nine of the chain’s faux-castles in the U.S. and Canada.
Having just watched the premiere of the new show in Dallas, Cordner said he enjoyed hearing the audience react when the queen defends her authority when challenged by male characters.
Cordner, who also has performed in each of the male roles throughout his career with the show, including the king for 20 years, wanted to diverge from story lines where women have to marry to gain validation but can command authority on their own. It wasn’t cultural currents that inspired him as much as the feedback he heard of the years from audiences asking for a woman to take the helm.