“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”
Henry David Thoreau
These classic words of wisdom by the late American poet and philosopher exhort people everywhere to follow their passions. After all, everyone has a dream.
For many people, their dreams begin in childhood and slowly fade away as they grow into adulthood. However, others refuse to give up, and they passionately pursue their dreams until they become reality.
One such successful dreamer is Hendersonville native Elizabeth Golden Curtis.
As the granddaughter of legendary Oak Ridge Boy William Lee Golden, Elizabeth is no stranger to being around people chasing their life goals, and she understands the dedication, hard work and good fortune that it takes to transform desires into reality.
In 2014, Elizabeth and her friend Peyton Weaver founded Character Visits 4 U (CV4U), a local business dedicated to creating magical moments for young people. CV4U is a unique company that provides entertainment at special events through a talented cast of actors portraying modern and classical characters.
“At CV4U, we are all about making dreams come true,” says Elizabeth. “We perform at all kinds of occasions, including festivals, private parties and weddings. Magic is for everyone, and we love sharing it.”
Along with various corporate, civic and individual gatherings, CV4U also hosts four special events each year in Hendersonville – the Royal Princess High Tea, the Hero Initiative: Training Program, the Castle of Villains and the Enchanted Christmas Ball. Along with these events, CV4U also participates in other occasions, including the annual Rock Castle Wonderland Tea Party.
From a creative perspective, CV4U bases most of its characters upon well-known figures who have been popularized through movies, television, books and fairy tales. Popular characters include princesses and superheroes. Some of the characters closely resemble their media counterparts, included wearing familiar costumes and bearing well-known names, e.g. Cinderella and Snow White. Others, however, are more differentiated, with slightly different costuming and names in order to avoid copyright issues, e.g. God of Thunder and Spider Hero.
One of the biggest keys to success for CV4U is its attention to detail. From perfect casting to stylish costuming, Elizabeth and her team are dedicated to delivering the best possible customer experiences.
“Our biggest differentiator is our cast,” says Elizabeth. “To select our actors, we hold annual auditions in which we look for engaging performers who feel comfortable changing the space in a room. We choose team members who have big hearts, and who are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that our clients enjoy a magical time.”
Today, CV4U offers over 50 characters, with some cast members portraying multiple roles at different events. Determining who plays which character involves a long and detailed process.
“When evaluating actors for individual roles, we consider a lot of factors that we know to be crucial to character success,” says Elizabeth. “Attributes such as height, facial structure and vocal ability are strong influences upon our casting decisions. Once we approve a performer to portray a character, they undergo extensive training involving such things as cosmetology matching, autograph practice, question/answer responses and vocal/physical animation.”
Costume selection follows an equally detailed process, requiring a considerable investment in both time and money.
“We work with global designers to ensure the highest quality costumes and wigs for our cast. As a result, we typically invest $1,000 to $3,000 in costuming per character,” says Elizabeth. “These days, the wait times for costume components is astronomical due to high demand. I am already looking ahead to 2024 – 2025 to see what we will need then so that I can place the orders this year.”
During its early years, CV4U concentrated on providing its characters to hospitals and hospices through nonprofit agencies such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation. However, over time, the demand for the company’s services has increased, prompting CV4U to expand its scope into the commercial world. Today, the firm has grown to the point that it now provides characters to between 400 and 500 events each year.
In 2017, Elizabeth became the sole owner of CV4U as her former business partner moved away. Since then, the company has remained on an upward trajectory, creating magical moments for thousands of people, both young and young at heart.
For those looking to bring a little magic into their lives, they need look no further than Character Visits 4 U.
Character Visits 4 U
"The characters that I represent are like old friends - they comfort and inspire me. Sharing them with others is a way that I can show love to my world."
Elizabeth Golden Curtis