Menchville’s “Once Upon a Mattress”- A Fairy Tale with a Twist

The ensemble bursts into the "Song of Love" before intermission as Princess Winnifred charms the castle.

Laura Madler, Editor-in-Chief

The Menchville Players brought the popular musical “Once Upon a Mattress” to life on the Menchville stage this weekend, performing the show three times over May 11 and 12.

“Once Upon a Mattress” has been a favorite of community and high school theatre productions since going off-Broadway in the 1950s. The musical tells the story of a meek prince, Dauntless the Drab, under the guidance of his overly-controlling mother, Queen Aggravain, as he seeks a princess to marry. To further complicate matters, it has been decreed that no one in the kingdom may marry until Dauntless is wed. The young prince’s suitors are consistently stumped by the queen’s tests, preventing them from a royal wedding. All hope seems lost until a rather unconventional princess is brought to the kingdom- Princess Winnifred the Woebegone. ‘Fred’, as she prefers to be called, wins the hearts of everyone in the kingdom and rises to the challenge of the queen’s tests, vanquishing her and securing a “happily ever after” for herself.

Laura Madler
Princess Winnifred (Alex Swanenburg) comes to the palace in quite a disarray after swimming the palace moat.

The cast featured 32 of Menchville’s drama students acting as knights, ladies, and various medieval characters. Queen Aggravain was played by Camden Hunt, and the mute King Sextimus by Ky’yea Knightnor. Dauntless the Drab was portrayed by Nathan Poplin. Freshman Alex Swanenburg took on the role of Princess Winnifred in her first Menchville musical production. Sir Harry and Lady Larken, a couple in trouble, were played by Ryan Schoenberg and Elena Amundson/Sarah Clark. Olivia Kohlman and Paige Lawler were cast as the Minstrel, and the Jester was freshman Joelle Kurten. Senior Arik Rhone-Christensen made appearances as both the Wizard and the Nightingale of Samarkand.

Colorful and creative sets and costumes made “Once Upon a Mattress” come to life onstage. All members of the cast were decked out in full Medieval garb, including full hats and headdresses. Actors were clad in multicolored robes and, in some cases, wigs, to play their characters. The set itself was built to look like a palace, adorned with gold decorations and flowers. In between scenes, the actors used moving walls to create three different settings- the palace, Queen Aggravain’s lair, and Princess Winnifred’s room. The scenery was put together and painted by members of the drama department and the National Art Honor Society.

Laura Madler
The ensemble bursts into the “Song of Love” before intermission as Princess Winnifred charms the castle.

The Menchville Players’ performance was very well received by audiences. Spectators laughed and cheered throughout the play, bursting into applause after the many solo vocal performances by characters in the musical. On opening night, the performance concluded with a standing ovation by family and friends in the audience. The Menchville Drama Department also raised ample funds from ticket and concession sales, which will be going towards their performances next year.

There will not be any more performances by the Menchville Players this year, but the students will be actively working towards preparing a musical for next year, as well as continuing to work on their one-act play for competition.