A night of hilarity and entertainment is in store for audiences who attend Tecumseh High School’s presentation of the fractured fairytale, “Once Upon a Mattress.” The play is open from March 17-19. With music by Mary Rodgers and lyrics by Marshall Barer, the musical comedy is based on Hans Christian Anderson’s beloved fairytale, “The Princess and the Pea.”
“Once Upon a Mattress” tells the story of how “shy” Princess Winnifred the Woebegone leaves her swampy home to apply for the job opening of Princess for grown-up mama’s boy, Prince Dauntless. It is no small task Princess Winnifred takes on either. She is number 13 in the long line of hopefuls who have failed the impossible royalty tests concocted by Dauntless’ overbearing mother, Queen Aggravain, who uses the tests to weed out “undesirable” princesses and keep her son unwed. However, the Queen’s subjects are desperate to have Dauntless married off since no one in the kingdom may marry until Dauntless takes a bride; a situation especially worrisome for secret lovers, Sir Harry and Lady Larkin.
Julia Jones plays the unusual Princess Winnifred. “I’m really excited about getting to play her!” exclaims Jones, “Princess Winnifred is so funny, and she is not like any other princess you can think of...I’m just having a lot of fun with her.” The actress also says she and Winnifred are very similar, which makes it easy for her to get into character and makes playing the princess even more enjoyable.
Playing the imperious and over-protective Queen Aggravain is newcomer Kara Willardson. Willardson comments, “Aggravain is fun since she is a little bit crazy because she is afraid of losing her son. She has been a lot of fun to play for my first role.” The actress is also amused by how close the character hits home for her, “Aggravain talks a lot, which is something we have in common....and the way she talks also reminds me of some of the women in my family, which is really funny!”
Noah Berner takes the stage as the hapless Prince Dauntless, who is trying to balance his growing love for Winnifred with the demands of being a mama’s boy. “It’s easy to play Prince Dauntless...I mean, he’s goofy and I’m kind of goofy...and I do love my mom!” laughs Berner, “I’m having a great time playing him.”
Desperate lovers, Sir Harry and Lady Larkin, are brought to life by Rebecca Helt and Trent Studebaker. Helt comments, “Lady Larkin is great because she is so refined and dignified...more like the classical princess character with the pretty songs, but she has a little bit of Winnifred in her too.” Helt and Studebaker also agree that the audience will have fun watching Larkin and Sir Harry figure out how to deal with Larkin’s shocking secret, especially, explains Studebaker, since Sir Harry is kind of a wet blanket.
Director Melissa Willardson says the musical is “hilarious” and she is enjoying working with the large cast, many of whom are appearing on Tecumseh’s stage for the first time. “The audience is in for a real treat,” promises Willardson, “Once Upon a Mattress” is just a lot of fun to watch. The kids are really working hard and having a blast bringing it together, it will be a great time for everyone!”
Joining Willardson is Assistant Director, Justin Hoke; Choreographer & Assistant Director, Megan Holbrook; and Pit Orchestra Director, Bryan Martin.
The Orchestra is comprised of students and alumni, including
Rachel Bailey, Gwen Chappell, Pat Chastain, Elijah Gray, Lucas Klein, Abigail Krakora, David Leapley, Sydney Pauley, and Sierra Weaver.
Tecumseh will present “Once Upon a Mattress” on March 17-18 at 7 p.m. and on March 19 at 2 p.m. at Tecumseh High School located at 9670 W. National Road, New Carlisle. Tickets can be purchased at the High School or at the door the night of the performance. There is no general seating, so Willardson recommends purchasing tickets early.