by Rose Bostwick and Lucy Lu
Flowery vines weave through a luxurious castle, transporting the audience to a magical medieval kingdom where one girl challenges the idea of what it means to be a princess.
Princesses and knights alike sing and dance across the magnificently-decorated stage in Theatre Ink’s exceptional production of “Once Upon a Mattress,” an unconventional take on the classic fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea.” The show will run in the auditorium tonight, tomorrow and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
Directed and choreographed by English teacher Bradley Jensen, “Once Upon a Mattress” has hilarious characters, stunning costumes, and a positive message of self-acceptance. The message is an universal and important one for everyone, especially teenagers, who may struggle with their identity and not wanting to stand out.
The conniving, loquacious Queen Aggravain, brilliantly played by junior Elise Hausman, rules over a fictitious medieval kingdom, where the citizens are in search of “a genuine, certified princess.” The Queen has decreed that no one in the kingdom can marry until her son, Prince Dauntless the Drab, played by senior Peter Diamond, finds a bride.
When Princess Winnifred the Woebegone, played by junior Amanda Kuo, arrives in hopes of marrying Dauntless, it is immediately clear from her audacity and attitude that she is not the average princess. Unlike the other ladies of the kingdom, who wear uniform fancy gowns in muted pastel tones, Winnifred shows up in a pea-green jumpsuit. She then promptly attracts the attention of Dauntless, as well as the rest of the kingdom’s populace, by revealing her seemingly outrageous personality.
In the song “Shy”, one of the standout pieces of the night, Winnifred proclaims that under her tough exterior is a demure girl who is “actually, terribly timid and horribly shy.” Kuo does a noteworthy job with her strong voice and bold delivery of the song, and her acting perfectly showcases Winnifred’s down-to-earth and somewhat wacky personality, which is both endearing and amusing.
The romantic duet “In a Little While,” is a number sung by sophomore Liana Glennon and freshman Jonathan Champion. In the song, Lady Larken, a lady-in waiting at the castle played by Glennon, and Sir Harry, a noble knight played by Champion, profess their love for each other and predict the future they will share together through this lovely duet. Glennon’s strong, sweet soprano voice meshes beautifully with Champion’s deep tone to create exquisite harmonies, which make this and every duet they have a pleasure to see.
The intricate costumes, which provide exquisite decoration for every scene, clearly required hard work. Each scene brings new costumes, each more unique and fantastical than the last. This helps emphasize the fairy-tale setting, and complements the breathtaking sets.
When Princess Winnifred begins the number “The Swamps of Home,” it becomes impossible for the audience to keep their eyes off the fascinating scene. Dancers dressed in swamp-green leotards and mossy looking skirts perform interesting choreography and create a fascinating, fantasy-like tale in which paints the picture Kuo sings about passionately: “in my soul is the beauty of the bog, in my memory the magic of the mud.” The uniqueness of the scene captivates not only the ladies, but also the audience, still in wonder, but roaring in applause as Kuo’s last note lingering note disappears.
The ending of Once Upon a Mattress provides a refreshing take on the traditional fairytale ending, which encourages the audience to break social norms and defy gender stereotypes.
Throughout the show, the hard work that all the various departments involved put in is apparent through the impressive choreography, lights, sets, and costumes. Every actor’s performance is phenomenal, and all including the directors and crew do an amazing job creating a hilarious, vibrant, and memorable show: a must-see which will leave you smiling.
Seating is reserved and tickets cost $10, $14, and $16 and can be purchased on Theatre Ink’s website or tomorrow during all lunches.