Once Upon a Mattress’ : New Twist on an Old Tale

Claudia Anaya

Growing up, little boys dream of becoming superheroes and little girls dream of being princesses. After a few years, reality hits but doesn’t take away a person’s fascination for magic, love, and whale-size dreams.

“I thought it would be fun for everybody to live in that world for awhile,” said Melissa Randel. “It’s not logical and it’s playful. I think I liked the idea that there was a test to being princess, a lot of little girls wanted to be princesses.”

The Glendale College departments of Dance, Music and Theater Arts this month presented “Once Upon a Mattress,” a musical comedy based on the fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea.” The production, directed by Randel, featured live music, dancing, delightful acting, and incredible singing in the main auditorium.

The story that first opened on Broadway in 1959 begins with the Minstrel, who was played by Joenhel Cayanan, who tells of the original story of “The Princess and the Pea” but says he knows the real story because he was there.

The King, played by Aren Soulahian, is under a spell placed by Queen Aggravaine, played by Leisna Ozno, until a mouse devours a hawk.

Meagon Ligons, 25, theater, thought that Soulahian did an amazing job. “To have a character that has no lines but to be so physical and so entertaining, it’s just really fun to watch.”

As the stage lit up and bright colors began to show on stage, described by Randel as “eye candy,” the Queen Aggravaine, played by Leisna Ozno, was seen testing princesses to see if they were good enough to marry Prince Dauntless, played by Jacob Lopez.

The Queen’s “princess test” is as follows: first, she tires out the princess by putting on a ball with fast-paced dancing. Second, the princess is given a potion, causing sleepiness, which leads to the third part of the Queen’s plan – the pea. A tiny pea would be placed under 20 heavy mattresses to test the princess’s sensitivity – how? Only a true princess could feel a pea under 20 mattresses.

As the princesses fail the test, the rest of the kingdom, except for the queen, is disappointed since no one can get married until Prince Dauntless gets married.

Sir Harry, played by Andrew Pantazis, went off to find a true princess after finding out that his girlfriend Larkin, played by Ashley Zabala, is pregnant and may affect his position as a knight if they have a child out of wedlock.

Sir Harry returns with Princess Winnifred, also know as “Fred,” played by the talented Jessica Young, a bold and rough princess from the marshlands who captivates the prince immediately and is disliked by the queen just as much.

Young’s emotionally charged performance “Shy” and “Happily Ever After” were the most memorable of all the musical numbers, causing loud applause from the audience.

Charlene Lacambra, 18, undecided, thought that Princess Winnifred was “pretty funny.”
Queen Aggravine decides to put Winnifred to
the test
After the dance, the princess goes to bed and begins to count sheep because is unable to get comfortable and go to sleep.

As Princess Winnifred is counting sheep, she steps out of her room, suggesting to the queen know that she should move the bed to the torture chamber because she couldn’t sleep all night.

After everyone cheers that the princess passed the test, the queen is upset and is told by Dauntless to “shut up.” The curse on King Sextimus is broken since the “mouse” devoured the “hawk.” Dauntless, the quiet prince, the “mouse,” finally speaks up against him mother, the “hawk.”

At the end of the play it’s shown that underneath the mattress were swords and other weapons that disturbed the princess’ sleep, which were taken out by the people that wanted to help the princess including Larkin.

Winnifred was able to sleep after all of the items, including the pea were taken out.
The king speaks, the queen cannot and everyone except the queen lives happily ever after.

The next production of the season is “Boy Gets Girl,” a suspenseful psychodrama directed by Jeanette D. Farr that will be playing on April 3 through May 16.

The fall production still to be cast is Streetcar Named Desire.”