Students present ‘Once Upon a Mattress’
By Scott Bellile
Hortonville High School actors learned they don’t need to be familiar with a production in order to have a blast staging it.
Justin Foth, director of “Once Upon a Mattress,” said 110 students are part of the musical despite no one knowing it before joining the cast. Through learning the show, some seniors are telling Foth it’s become their favorite HHS fall production.
“I love the heart that’s in it,” Foth said of the show, a comical revamp of the fairytale “The Princess and the Pea”. “I think it’s hysterical. I love how excited the kids get and how out-of-the-box they get to get.”
Audiences are in for a departure from Hortonville’s typically serious fall productions. In “Once Upon a Mattress,” Queen Aggravain declares nobody in the kingdom can marry until a princess passes a ridiculous test she creates to marry her son, Prince Dauntless. It is up to Princess Winnifred the Woebegone to pass it so kingdom dwellers can marry once again.
Carol Burnett originally played the role of Princess Winnifred on Broadway when the comedy musical debuted in 1959, if that gives the older audience members a clue of what to expect. There are ample moments for the HHS actors to get comical:
• Senior Lizzie Lohrer, who plays Princess Winnifred, will take a tumble off an 8-foot castle. No worries, though, as she’ll crash upon some high jump mats – because as senior chorus member Alaina Verstegen said, “We don’t want ‘em to break our dearest Lizzie here.”
• For the musical number “Song of Love,” Lohrer and Verstegen said the characters (not the actors) get progressively more intoxicated on wine as the song carries on. The girls said it’s an interesting acting challenge to portray a sensation they’ve never experienced.
• Hortonville’sTony Fannin said his character Prince Dauntless has the cognitive ability of a 7-year-old. “I was actually told by the directors to go and observe and study my nieces and nephews,” Fannin said. Through his shadowing he picked up “a carefree personality. You just don’t care what other people think about you.”
The leads for “Once Upon a Mattress” are: Lizzie Lohrer (Princess Winnifred), Tony Fannin (Prince Dauntless), Jenn Killam (Queen Aggravain), Molly Streubel (Jester), Marni Wenzel (Minstrel), Joe Nicholson (Wizard), Connor Krause (King Sextimus the Silent), McKenzie Rasmussen (Lady Larken) and James Kellerman (Sir Harry).
The show runs Thursday, Nov. 10, through Sunday, Nov. 13. The first three nights’ shows are at 7 p.m. shows while Sunday’s starts at 3 p.m.
Tickets can be ordered on the HHS website. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors Thursday through Saturday, and $8 for everyone on Sunday.
“I hope they just have a million laughs,” Foth said.