'Once Upon a Mattress' puts a new twist on a familiar classic

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Fri., Mar. 1, 2013
Lucia Palladino and Collin Davis rehearse a scene in 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.
Lucia Palladino and Collin Davis rehearse a scene in 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.

“If you thought you knew the story of ‘The Princess and the Pea,’ you're in for a walloping surprise!” That is the tagline for “Once Upon a Mattress,” the spring musical presented by The Entertainers at Timothy Edwards Middle School.

“It's the story of a queen and her son, the prince, and essentially, she doesn't want him to marry,” said producer and TEMS teacher Laurie Petrin. “So she sets up a lot of obstacles for these potential brides-to-be, a lot of tests, which are just impossible to pass.” The most famous example finds the princesses sleeping on 20 stacked mattresses with a pea underneath. If the princess was true royalty, opines the queen, she would feel the pea.

When Prince Dauntless the Drab falls for Princess Winnifred, members of the court conspire in her favor. Soon, the mattress has not just a pea, but deer antlers, spurs and swords as well.

Nearly 80 students are in the cast of this show, along with 20 students working on the technical and stage crews. “It's the kind of theater experience where anyone who auditions gets in the show,” said Petrin. The play is double-cast: every part has two actors, and the cast as a whole is split into two groups. There is the Red Cast, which performs Thursday and Saturday nights, and the Blue Cast, which performs Friday night and the Saturday matinee. The leads in one cast are in chorus and ensemble in the other, ensuring that the most people have speaking roles. “Our philosophy is to let everyone have a chance to experience theater,” she said.

The role of Princess Winnifred is played by Kate Harper and Natalie Paliulis. Prince Dauntless is played by Connor O'Brien and Connor Gerrity. The prince's parents, Queen Aggravain and King Sextimus the Silent, are played by Victoria Striebel and Molli DeRosa, and Nathan Grivers and Bryce Castellone.

The play is directed by Carolyn Fisher of Summit Music Studio in Manchester, with assistant director Samantha Creighton, a senior at South Windsor High School and former TEMS Entertainer herself.

“Once Upon a Mattress” will be performed Thursday, March 21, Friday, March 22, and Saturday, March 23, at 7 p.m. There will be a 1 p.m. matinee on Saturday, as well. Admission is $10 for students and adults, and $5 for seniors and children 5 and under. For more information or to order tickets, contact Petrin at lpetrin@swindsor.k12.ct.us.

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