Gianna Marchese and Timothy Green act as popular science fiction char­acters with the Liberty Princess Company. (Facebook)

The Liberty Princess Company recently added an entirely new set of char­acters to its reper­toire, and they don’t wear high heels.

The program’s founder and director, Gianna Marchese ’17, said that she decided to add the new cosmic char­acters from one of childhood’s favorite hero movies after Our Child’s Advocate, a Michigan-based foster care and adoption agency, asked if her non­profit, vol­unteer company would help them with an upcoming event.

“They asked if we have galactic char­acters, because their other group dropped out, with the event hap­pening in two weeks,” Marchese said. “So we pulled things together and created all of these char­acters just for the event.”

Marchese and four other Hillsdale College stu­dents traveled to PRO Martial Arts in Canton, Michigan on Sep­tember 24, clad in galactic gear. Between 50 and 75 children attended the event, taking pic­tures and getting to meet all of the char­acters.

Andrea Wallace, a junior and student director who has vol­un­teered with the company for two years, said the children were pretty excited when the stu­dents entered the room in costume.  

“One of our favorite things to do was to try to recruit small children to either the dark or the light side and say, ‘you have these really cool shoes, and I bet you’re a really fast runner, and you’d make a great recruit for our rebel group,’” Wallace said.

Wallace said one par­ticular child was both excited and appre­hensive about getting a picture with the Dark Space Lord.

“He looked at his mom and said, ‘I’m not scared. I’m brave,’ and the rest of the time, while his mom was taking 50 pic­tures, was this kid saying ‘I’m brave, I’m brave,’ like this self-assurance loop… It was really cute,” Wallace said.

She added that the Liberty Princess Company vol­un­teers always do their best to accu­rately portray the char­acters they rep­resent.

“The Rebel Princess’s voice is very forward and com­manding and tight… and usually, I let my words kind of softly round off to a finish, and so I tried to have that extra edge to the way I spoke,” Wallace said. “I also want to invest in colored con­tacts before I play her more because that made me uncom­fortable having the wrong color eyes. Even though kids don’t usually notice, I want to be 1000 percent char­acter accurate.”

Gary Dunkerley poses as a space scav­enger, along with Andrea Wallace as the rebel leader princess and Brendan Noble as the dark space lord. (Facebook)

One of the company’s other members, senior Gary Dunkerley, said he also tried to adjust his man­nerisms and voice to be con­sistent with the char­acter of the Space Smuggler.

“I’m not a huge galactic heroes buff, but what I was told is that he’s kind of arrogant, a little cocky, a bit of a flirt, but overall, he’s a nice guy,” he said. “I tried to make my voice a little bit more gravelly, but not a whole lot. Just make it sound like a guy who’s seen some stuff.”

At most of their events, the Liberty Princess Co. has a dis­cussion with the children about what it means to be a true princess, or, in this case, a true hero, from the per­spective of kindness and inward char­acter. Wallace said that since the Our Children’s Advocate event was more of a meet-and-greet format, the group did not have a chance to present their regular talk, but they did try to point out par­ticular char­acter aspects they observed.

“If we saw a kid helping out his little brother, we’d say ‘wow, that’s a really heroic thing that you did there,’” Wallace said.

Dunkerley said the group also tried to encourage good and moral behavior through their own example.

“Because we couldn’t directly instruct the kids, I think we just wanted to be not dis­ap­pointing as heroes and let our example teach them instead,” Dunkerley said.

Wallace said the galactic heroes have been a hobby of hers since she was very young.

“I love the galactic heroes. I’m so obsessed,” she said. “My brother was able to take a Make-A-Wish trip down [to a famous amusement park], and they funded all of our gift store pur­chases, so we bought pretty much the entire galactic heroes gift store, and it’s still in our basement… I remember when I was casting myself as the Rebel Princess I was like, ‘Is this really hap­pening?”

Dunkerley said he first got involved with the company when a vol­unteer asked him if he would act as one of the company’s princes.

“I went to The Source booth for the Princess Company, and I was like, ‘Hey, could I dress up as a princess?’ and they were like, ‘No, we don’t think so, but we do need princes,’ so I was like ‘Ok, sounds fun,’” he said. “So I signed up, and they seemed to be gen­uinely excited, because there’s kind of a need for it.”

Marchese designs a lot of the cos­tumes for the company herself, and she made the galactic cos­tumes for the Space Scav­enger and Space Smuggler char­acters com­pletely from scratch. The company bought and rented the other cos­tumes, but had to perform major alter­ations, espe­cially after real­izing that the Dark Space Lord’s costume had a cal­cu­lator for a chest plate.

The company already has their next event planned for the second week of October. Marchese said people gen­erally contact her over Facebook to schedule events.

“We don’t do much adver­tising,” she said. “We have our hands pretty much full through word of mouth.”

Wallace said she is inspired to be part of the program because it allows her and other stu­dents to be good role models to children in the com­munity.

“My favorite part is when a kid first sees you and their eyes light up,” she said. “They’re just so excited because their role model and the person they watch in a movie every day is in front of them and cares about them.”