Shade Tree Players will be the first to perform a new children's play "The Princess in the Moon: A Fairytale."

The play, written by St. Paul, Minn., resident James Belich, features a princess aspiring to be a knight and premieres at 7 p.m. Thursday at Dakota Stage.

"It isn't just about a princess in a castle; it is about a princess who goes out and meets these kooky characters," said Laura Rysavy, the show's director.

The fairy tale is a spin on traditional fairy tales. Princess Lizzy, Lexi Hagler, is bored with the duties of a princess. Instead of a white knight in shining armor, Princess Lizzy wants to put the armor on herself and distinguish herself as unique. But Lizzy soon realizes many princesses have become knights.

Her new goal is to travel to the moon. But along the way she fires the story's narrator and unknowingly creates a villain bent on taking over her kingdom.

"She is trying to do a quest that no one has ever done, and it is not turning out the way she wants it to," Hagler said.

The play focuses on the idea that everything has consequences.

"If we do something we shouldn't, it isn't always so simple to rectify that," Belich said in a phone interview.

Unlike typical fairy tales, where everything works out into the "happily ever after," Belich said the play doesn't end with a "nice neat happy ending."

"Often at the end it feels like the consequences of (their actions) have been swept under the rug," Belich said.

While Belich finished his first rough draft in fall of 2006, the play has not yet been translated to the stage.

"It's always exciting to see a play go up for the first time, see that jump form that page to real life," Belich said.

But during that time, the show hasn't been put on the back burner for Belich. He entered it in the 2009 East Valley Children's Theatre's Aspiring Playwrights contest, a contest held by an Arizona community theater, and took second place.

"It certainty helped give the piece some credibility," Belich said.

Performing a play for the first time does have its disadvantages, but "the advantages definitely outweigh the few disadvantages," Rysavy said.

For Hagler, it means she gets to be the first person to play Princess Lizzy.

"It's really fun to think about creating characters in different ways," Rysavy said. "The kids get to create the characters form scratch."

Being the first to perform the show has given the Shade Tree Players the opportunity to build their characters and the set from the ground up. Now, they are waiting to see Belich's reaction, who will make his first trip to North Dakota for the opening show.

When the young actors were told that the author of "The Princess and the Moon" was coming to watch them perform, their mouths dropped, Rysavy said.

"It is a once in a lifetime opportunity around here for something like that to happen," Rysavy said.

This is 16-year-old Hagler's 10th year performing with Shade Tree Players. Rysavy has been a member of the Shade Tree Players program for 18 years, six years as a director.

The show will be performed at 7 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students kindergarden through college.

(Reach reporter Kay Kemmet at or 250-8260.)