JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Once upon a time (1959), a fairy tale (“The Princess and the Pea”) came to life on Broadway and is still going strong. Today, “Once upon a Mattress” remains a popular musical for audiences of all ages.
Now, “Mattress” has been chosen as the Johns Creek High School winter play. This fun, entertaining musical will be presented by the Johns Creek High School Performing Arts Department Jan. 30 to Feb. 1.
Best remembered as the vehicle that launched the career of an unknown actress named Carol Burnett, it was created by Mary Rodgers, the daughter of legendary composer Richard Rodgers.
“We chose ‘Once upon a Mattress’ this year for several reasons,” said Debbie Prost, JCHS director. “It is a non-traditional fairytale with many comedic attributes. In addition, the music is a departure from typical musicals and provided a challenge for our actors and orchestra.
“We felt that we had the perfect group of students to meet these challenges and showcase these comedic elements,” she said. “Also, the story of ‘Once upon a Mattress’ has so many facets that it will appeal to audiences of all ages. “
Prost is joined by Rhonda Fossum, musical director and orchestra conductor, and choreographer Allison Polaski in their fourth production together at JCHS.
Seventy-five students make up the cast and crew that have been rehearsing since early November for the late-January performances.
“Once Upon a Mattress” is the story of the gloomy but handsome Prince Dauntless (senior Bryce Irvin) looking for a princess to be his true love. He is being “helped” by his talkative and overbearing mother Queen Aggravain (senior Tori Beauchamp and junior Kennedy Coe) who declares that no one in the kingdom will marry until her son is wed to a princess of true royal blood.
“I am not at liberty to ‘talk’ about my role,” said senior Sam Sheriff tongue in cheek. He plays King Sextimus who was rendered mute by an evil spell and can only communicate by pantomime.
“I love the dysfunctional personalities of the members of the royal family. ‘Mattress’ is a hilarious farce that everyone will enjoy,” said Sheriff.
After the Wizard (freshman Daniel Furney) unsuccessfully interviews numerous prospective princesses, Sir Harry (senior Albert Pham), the heart-throb and brave knight of the kingdom, discovers a most unlikely princess in Winnifred the Woebegone (seniors Annie Lee and Simone Bosch), who lives in the swamp.
“I love playing Princess Fred. She presents the challenge of mixing the attributes of a delicate princess with her own personality, which involves bad posture and not-so dainty remarks,” said Lee.
Bosch, who shares the role of Winnifred, added, “I love that my character is fun-loving and full of life. She may be a princess but definitely doesn’t fit the stereotype of one.”
Naturally, the edict that no one may marry until Prince Dauntless does cause a great deal of – ah, dramatic tension throughout the kingdom.
Additional characters are Lady Larken (junior McKenna Conboy) and two mischievous and witty characters, the Jester (senior Harrison Mead) and the traveling Minstrel (freshman Brennen Blotner).
IF YOU GO
WHEN: 7 p.m. Jan. 30 to Feb. 1
WHERE: Johns Creek High School
5575 State Bridge Road, Johns Creek
TICKETS: $15 adults; $12 students