For the first time in the 34-year-history of the Medieval Times “dinner and a tournament” venues, a female monarch has claimed the throne. Jessica Schear-Tolles is one of six performers who will play Queen Doña Maria Isabella at the 28-year-old theater in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, where guests can gobble roasted chicken and watch fourteenth-century swordfights.
"I feel it was meant to be, because it's falling in such a very interesting time period in the world now," the actress told NorthJersey.com. "It's just been declared the Year of the Woman, and here we are making history with a queen in the castle."
But according to the show’s writer and director, the show wasn’t inspired by the current cultural movement determined to call out male privilege. The new storyline, titled “Sovereign,” was proposed long before the current wave of firings among male celebrity chefs and Hollywood executives.
“People have accused us of following a trend, but actually we were working on this show for 18 months before we launched it,” Leigh Corner told NorthJersey.com.
Nonetheless, female fans are feeling empowered.
"We have the little girls who come in and look at you with these huge eyes, and they see a princess — and now, of course, she's going to be a queen," Schear-Tolles told NorthJersey.com. "And they look at you, and they believe."
Medieval Times performances at the Lyndhurst location are at 7 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2, 5, and 8 p.m. Saturday, 4 and 7 p.m. Sunday, and 4 p.m. Monday. Tickets cost $62.95 for adults and $36.95 for children under 12.
For a little taste of what modern-day royalty enjoys — from water to Champagne — here are Queen Elizabeth’s 10 favorite drinks.