As a girl, I was enchanted by Beauty and the Beast . I would regularly pop in my VHS copy (yes, really) and imagine myself as Belle. Just like her, I had brown hair, brown eyes, a love of reading—and a dream of one day happening upon my own fairy-tale "happily ever after."
On a family trip to New York City when I was 11, my parents bought tickets to the musical version at the Palace Theatre on Broadway. I sat, enthralled, as Toni Braxton—the first African-American to play Belle on Broadway—belted out "Something There" and "Belle" and brought my beloved characters (Chip, Lumiere) to life.
I've seen dozens of musicals since then, but this was the first time I remember recognizing the power of theater to engage, to inspire—to dazzle. While I may have outgrown (some of) my fairy-tale dreams in the past 13 years, I still see myself in Belle. Maybe your kids will, too.
Catch it: Beauty and the Beast plays the Buell Theatre  March 14–18. Tickets start at $20.
—Image courtesy of Joan Marcus