Once Upon A Mattress
by Russell Bretz, Sr.
As the pit orchestra, conducted by Mr. Ben Pack featuring the incomparable Janet Goldner on piano, and the other fine musicians, launched into the overture, the audience eagerly awaited what turned out to be a delightful performance of the musical; “Once Upon A Mattress”.
The play was adapted from the whimsical stage play; “The Princess And The Pea” with the musical score written by Mary Rodgers with lyrics by Marshall Barer.
The play opens with the Minstrel, played by Wyatt Mowery, performing the song, “Many Moons”, followed by the song; “Fit For A Princess”, performed by Dauntless, played by Nathan Flores, Larken, played by Lily Woods, and the Ladies and Knights.
The action quickly moved to the main plot of the play: A suitable bride for Prince Dauntless the Drab. His mother, Queen Aggravain, played by Lindsay Davis had set high standards which included a test. The test proved out to be not only creative but outrageous. The queen never expected a prospective bride to pass it. Wrong! The prospective bride easily passed the test. What was the test and who had to pass it? Princess Winnifred the Woebegone, played by Allison Beaupry. The test was to be able to detect a small pea played under a stack of mattresses. When Princess Winnfred proclaimed that she “hadn’t slept a wink”, she passed the test.
The play featured some beautiful costumes, amazing choreography, and great vocal renditions. The song by Winnifred, “Shy” was one of high points of the first act. She was backed up by others on the stage to make it even more outrageous. Throughout the show, the pace and the blocking of the scenes was flawless. The action moved quickly and scene changes were well coordinated.
Act two featured a “man-to-man” talk between Dauntless and the King, played by Tyler Stimmel. The King, at this point in the play, could not speak so the conversation took place in pantomime. They both managed to get the point across: there is a big difference between men and women. Act two also featured a nice duet by Harry, played by Alex Byrd, and Larken, played by Lily Woods.
The fitting climax to the play was the long climb by Winnifred up the ladder to sleep on the huge pile of mattresses. The climb itself was not only tedious to watch but undoubtedly tenuous to undertake. Winnifred made it look easy which it probably wasn’t. But, that was the ‘test’ she had to pass to become the bride of Dauntless.
The play also featured some great scenery and realistic-looking backdrops. The artwork and lighting were absolutely perfect. The sound techs did a great job balancing the mike settings for the actors and soloists.
Obviously, the cast put a lot into this play and the results were worth the effort. A huge thank you should be given to Miss Emily Meyerson, artistic director, and Mr. Ben Pack, who assisted with the production and also assembled and directed the pit orchestra.
photos by Russell Bretz, Sr.