Putting the musical season to bed in Once Upon a Mattress


During “Song of Love,” Prince Dauntless (Nate Krantz) serenades his “incipient wife” Winnifred (Megan Poulos).

Max Miranda, A&E Editor

The auditorium’s buzz diminishes to but a whisper in a matter of seconds as the lights dim on two purple seals and a small table.  The Minstrel (junior Jack Fishman) emerges from stage left and begins gently, yet powerfully singing the famous tale of the “Princess and the Pea.”

He informs the crowd that this story was  “not quite accurate,” and his first-hand account of the events then begins to play out before our eyes.

The curtains open to nearly the entire cast waiting anxiously as Princess No. 12 (sophomore Alexandra DeAngelis), attempts to pass a test commissioned by Queen Aggravain (senior Sydney Ronis) for the marriage of her son.

The proctor of the test happens to be the kingdom’s Wizard, played by freshman Christian Hill.  Hill performed terrifically despite being the youngest lead in the cast.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself. I wanted to do well, because I realized that they really gave me an opportunity.  I thought that if I screwed up now, they wouldn’t take me serious after this.  But I just ended up having a lot of fun,” said Hill.

Naturally, the princess fails, a large disappointment to everyone else in the kingdom who has to wait until Prince Dauntless (senior Nate Krantz) is married, before they themselves may.

The discontented group breaks out into the musical’s first group number, “Opening for a Princess.”  It was numbers like these that made the show shine.

“Despite the fact that there were a lot of people in the cast, it wasn’t really hard working with this group because we had a really good group of people who were all really willing to work,” said Rebecca Schaub, who played the Falconer.

From here, the story directly diverges from your typical princess tale.  When the audacious Princess Winnifred (junior Megan Poulos) is brought back to the kingdom by Knight Sir Harry (senior Matty Di Giovanni), a conflict arises.  While the Prince is hypnotized by Winnifred (lovingly nicknamed Fred), Aggravain would rather die than let her son marry such an undignified girl.  Ronis brought an almost vibrantly cruel energy to the role.

Amid humorous numbers like “The Minstrel, The Jester And I,” “Song of Love,” and “Spanish Panic No. 2,” a plan is concocted to keep Winnifred from the throne.

Of course, this is where the famous portion of the story comes in, as Aggravain plans to put a pea under twenty mattresses to see if she is a “genuine princess.”

The second act begins with the song, “Quiet,” and there seems to have been a large divot in the energy—this was not the most memorable of numbers.

As the ensemble is preparing her test, Winnifred begins reflecting on the nature of her situation in the song “Happily Ever After” a beautiful song with an inspiring message that truly gets to the heart of the show.

“A huge part of life and growing up is finding a place where you can belong with people who care about you.  When you find that place, and those people, like Winnifred does in this kingdom with Dauntless, that’s when you reach a true happily ever after,” said Poulos.

Meanwhile, King Sextimus the Silent, played by junior Sameer Nanda, is forced to have the birds and the bees discussion with Dauntless.  However, being that he is “silent” and communicates through elaborate charades, this creates a once-in-a-lifetime comic moment. Nanda’s performance carried strong throughout, as both a comedic and emotional character, primarily through hand motions.

“I like how everyone has their own song and really their own little moment to shine. Each song highlights something special within the cast members.  For example, the song, ‘Very Soft Shoes’ shows off the Jester’s ability to perform and please a crowd,” said Poulos.

In the end, the Minstrel figures out what the test is in advance, and stuffs the bed with objects to inhibit Fred from sleeping, contrary of course, to the princess finding the pea by her own abilities.  As a result, Fred marries Dauntless and reaches her own “Happily Ever After.”

Once Upon a Mattress was a highly entertaining production.  The pit orchestra was incredible.  The show certainly had something for everyone: the air of a fairy tale, a powerful cast, and a lot of laughter.