DALLAS TWP. —The Dallas High School Theatre Club will transport its audience to 15th century England for the tale of “Once Upon a Mattress” April 15-17.
The comedic musical is based on a book written by Jay Thompson, Marshall Barer and Dean Fuller with music by Mary Rodgers and lyrics by Marshall Barer. The Dallas High School Theatre Club will present for three shows at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 15 and 16, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 17, in the Dallas High School Auditorium. Tickets are $10.
The play’s plot is an elaborate twist on the familiar story of “The Princess and the Pea,” said Audrey Ide, assistant director and customer designer.
A domineering Queen Aggravaín and King Sextimus are searching to find a bonified princess for their son, Prince Dauntless.
“The queen is mean,” said Catherine Blankensop, a senior at Dallas High School, of her character. “She is attached to her son and does not want him to marry. He is her only son.”
The queen develops impossible tests for eligible princesses to pass, Blankensop said. Some tests include being quizzed on history, spelling and even their physical strength — but the toughest trial to exclude an energetic and determined Princess Winnifred the Woebegone focuses on her sensitivity to feel a pea “under 20 downy mattresses.”
The king, portrayed by Jacob Besecker, is deaf due to a curse and can not intervene on his son’s behalf.
“There is a curse that keeps him (the king) silent,” Besecker, a junior, said. “He communicates by acting out, like a big game of charades. He does make whistling sounds.”
For the king’s curse to be lifted, “a mouse has to devour a hawk,” Besecker said.
While the queen excludes one princess after another, young Prince Dauntless, played by freshman Jacob Smith, grows more and more lonely until Princess Winnifred enters his castle.
The happy-go-lucky Princess Winnifred, portrayed by junior Anna Lehane, seems to irritate the queen with every action while befriending castle staff and falling in love with the prince.
The music-heavy performance struck a chord with the 23-member cast.
“The play is fun,” Besecker said. “Everyone’s role part fits part of their personality.”
Junior Carley Perloff agrees adding her character, the Jester, “makes light of everything.”
“It is a fun role. No stress,” Perloff said. “I am the comic relief.”
The student-actors were also given freedom to highlight the comedic scenes with a little impromptu acting of their own, Ide said as she watched Princess Winnifred’s character lie down on the stage and wrap her arm around Prince Dauntless’ leg during rehearsal.
Lehane enjoyed the challenge of learning the combination of lines and songs, but what created a hurdle for her was mastering Winnifred’s larger-than-life persona.
“My biggest challenge is to keep the energy in her lines,” Lehane said.
The controlling and mean nature of Queen Aggravaín’s character made Blankensop display traits she does not usually exhibit.
“The queen is not like my personality,” Blankensop said. “I have to think about why her character is doing a specific action.”
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.