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Once Upon a Mattress
a Musical Comedy
by Music by Mary Rodgers; Lyrics by Marshall Barer

ID# 4751

SHOWING : July 17, 2015 - August 08, 2015



If you thought you knew the story of ‘The Princess and The Pea,’ you may be in for a walloping surprise! Did you know, for instance, that Princess Winnifred actually swam the moat to reach Prince Dauntless the Drab? Or that Lady Larken’s love for Sir Harry provided a rather compelling reason that she reach the bridal altar post haste? Or that, in fact, it wasn’t the pea at all that caused the princess a sleepless night? Carried on a wave of wonderful songs, by turns hilarious and raucous, romantic and melodic, this rollicking spin on the familiar classic of royal courtship and comeuppance provides for some side-splitting shenanigans. Chances are you’ll never look at fairy tales quite the same way again!

Director Melody Cookson
Costume Designer Savannah Cookson
Stage Assistant Brianna Del Negro
Set Artist Amy Finkle
Assistant Director Jennifer Hartshorn
Costume Designer Suzanne Heiser
Production Manager Paul Komorner
Sound/Lighting Designer Murray Mann
Dance Captain Elena Matchen
Music Director Darin McKenna
Set Designer Rich Vandever
Assistant Stage Manager Emily Voller
Costume Designer Anne Voller
Props Manager Emily Voller
Choreographer Megan Wartell
Stage Manager Tristan Williams
Pitmaster, Accompanist Taylot Rowley
Lady Charlotte/Nightingale/Chambermaid Stacy Bowers
Lady Hortense Kiuleia Brandon
Princess Winnefred Lauren Butterfield
Sir Harold Loren Collins
Jester Savannah Cookson
Lady Lucille Tabatha Ford
Wizard Michael Glatzer
Lady Larken Charity Hitchcock
Sir Luce Justtyn Hutcheson
Lady Lydia, u/s Queen Jennifer Hutchinson
Lady Mabelle, u/s Princess Winnefred Ariel Kasten
King Sextimus Paul Komorner
Sir Richard Jeffrey Long
Prince Dauntless Joey Martineck
Lady Elizabeth, u/s Lady Larkin Elena Matchen
Sir Harry Darin McKenna
Lady Rowena Pamela Parry
Sir Studley Tim Scott
Lady Merrill Sofia Seybold
Princess #12, Lady Elspeth Emily Voller
Minstrel Alex Wiggs
Sir Tristan Tristan Williams
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


A lively musical overflowing with great performances
by DM2919
Sunday, August 2, 2015
I saw this play on opening night, after a long and tiring week. Uncertain whether the play, a musical, would be entertaining enough to keep me awake, I seriously considered smuggling a flask of iced coffee. In the end, I relented out of fear of being removed from the venue (a church). Fortunately, it proved unnecessary; the play provided 2-hours of wakefulness-promoting entertainment*

The actors were all phenomenal. Standout performances include Abbey Martin (Queen Aggravain), Charity Hitchcock (Lady Larken), and Lauren Butterfield (Princess Winnifred). Their interpretations of the characters were lively and fit the story perfectly. In fact, to try to jog my memory for this review, I watched clips of past productions of Mattress on YouTube and none of the listed characters were done as well as in this production.

Joey Martineck’s Prince Dauntless was, in my opinion, too immature. He never managed to win me over and thus, in the end, I wished Winnifred would have found her happy ever after with someone else (or, perhaps, being a free-spirit, she would have discovered that she preferred being alone).

Mike Glatzer, (the Wizard), Savannah Cookson (the Jester), and the puppet/marionette (as himself) were also amazing but unfortunately, as supporting actors, their time on the stage was limited. Like the three mentioned above, Mr. Glatzer is now the Wizard I will compare other Wizards against; his performance as a performer was well performed**. Likewise, Ms. Cookson and her puppet did such a fine job, I expected them to have a bigger role in the story and kept looking for them in every scene. Their performances led me to believe that they were the hawk and mouse foretold in the prophecy (spoiler alert, they’re not). This I suppose is a double-edged sword, as they may have captured more attention than was called for in the script.

Beyond the acting, the costume and set design (did you notice the beds?) were well done. Though, the music, when not accompanied by the lovely voices of the cast, did have a distinct “church-band” sound.

Overall, I recommend this musical and look forward to future productions by Act 1 Theater.

*Side effects include toe tapping, blushing, and earworm.
** But really, what was the magic trick?!
Muggsy Baloney
by playgoer
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Melody Cookson, the director of ACT1 Theater’s "Once Upon a Mattress," appears to be under the misapprehension that the church utility room that functions as the theatre is a Broadway-sized house. She has encouraged the cast to mug and overact and use gestures that would read to the back of a theatre seating several hundred people. In an intimate space, this becomes an in-your-face assault of would-be shtick and artificiality.

Any story needs to resonate emotionally with an audience to some degree. Here, the only person showing what seems to be genuine emotion is Charity Hitchcock as Lady Larken. Unfortunately, the contrast of her sometimes guarded demeanor to the rest of the cast makes her appear something of a downer. Even she is directed to do things bigger than subtlety would allow, such as a high kick upward with one leg as she is bent backwards for a kiss. Cheap laughs get laughter, all right, but they tend to cheapen the material.

The cast is a mixture of confident performers (all the leads) and community theatre performers (some of the ensemble). The contrast of some people going all-out and others appearing a bit stiff negates the apparent directorial intention to make this a goof-fest of over-the-top hilarity. I found the approach off-putting in the extreme. Ms. Cookson might have created a hit with an all-pro cast in a bigger venue, but the approach just doesn’t work at ACT1.

Rich Vandever’s set design makes splendid use of the space. A library seating area far stage right is permanent, and a turret far stage left stays in place until near the end, when it revolves to reveal the bed of twenty mattresses. The main playing area is empty space in the middle, with the curtains opened to reveal a number of differently appointed backdrops. Amy Finkel’s set artistry is on display throughout, looking painterly and cheery and delightful. A wonderful addition to the set is three rounded extensions in front of the stage proper, flanking two small sets of steps. The effect is a very subtle suggestion of the crenelated battlement of a castle, perfectly in keeping with the medieval timeframe.

Costumes, almost always a highlight in ACT1 productions, have been designed by Suzanne Thornett, Anne Voller, and Savannah Cookson, with assistance from a whole host of people. They’re quite impressive, with multiple costume changes for much of the cast. Historically, they aren’t terribly accurate, with some Cinderella-era gowns mingled with medieval garb more suitable for the stated time of 1428. Still, they impress.

Darin McKenna, the music director, has gotten good vocal performances out of his leather-lunged cast, although the vocal volume is sometimes as overdone as the overall direction. Musical accompaniment sometimes battled the voices in the early performance I saw, with accelerated tempi the norm. Megan Wartell’s choreography is very effective in group numbers, such as "The Spanish Panic," but sometimes can come across as a little silly in solos. I felt particularly sorry for Savannah Cookson, saddled with an extraneous puppet to share "his" lines and choreography as the Jester.

The cast is full of talent, and Murray Mann’s lighting and sound design work to help the production look and sound its best. Director Melody Cookson has obviously worked at, and largely succeeded at, molding the cast to her vision of "Once Upon a Mattress." I’d be happy to see almost any of the cast in anything else. In this production, they are so intent on doing things their director has arranged that their talent is buried under the burden of BIG! and LOUD! and OVER-THE-TOP!
Another Summer Hit at ACT1!
by notoriousdad
Saturday, July 18, 2015
ACT1 presents Once Upon a Mattress as its summer musical for 2015. It is a hit. Once again, ACT1 has assembled a youthful, energetic, talented cast to fill the court of a kingdom not far from Normandy. :)

Costumes are a strength and players all seem to have multiple costume changes. The costumes are rich, detailed, and create a fine assemblage onstage. Speaking of stage, ACT1 has a small theater and intimate stage but this production effectively makes that stage as large as possible. There are wings, multiple backgrounds and several large props that enable ACT1 to present many different rooms and settings.

ACT1 brings a strong ensemble to the stage. The collective voice hits all the right notes, from song, to dance, to acting. There is never a moment when ensemble members seem lost or stiff. They always have something happening, are engaging with each other, or are responding to the main action on the stage.

Once Upon a Mattress has lots of characters and some stand out...Lauren Butterfield is a strong, quirky, off-beat, and hilarious Princess Winnifred; Joey Martineck is the perfect combination of sheltered, curious, and smitten for Prince Dauntless; you will love the queen, wizard, minstrel, Harry, Larken, jester, and poor princess #12 as well.

Congrats to the creative team for Once Upon a Mattress. Your second act is better than the first! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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