By Wendy Sorensen (Guest Reviewer)
My fourteen-year-old companion and I thoroughly enjoyed Heritage Center Theater’s production of Once Upon A Mattress.
In all famous fairy tales, good triumphs over evil. This rings true in Cedar Valley Community Theater’s (in Cedar City) Once Upon A Mattress–this fun-filled musical does not disappoint. The misguided Queen Aggravain has decreed that any potential bride for her son must pass a test (designed by the Queen) in order to marry him. Not only can her son not find a bride worthy of him because no one has been able to pass her test, but NO ONE else in the kingdom may marry until the Prince marries his princess. Enter Sir Harry and Lady Larken, who must be married quickly because Larken is pregnant. If they cannot be married quickly, Larken will have to leave the kingdom. With haste, Sir Harry embarks on a quest to find a bride for Prince Dauntless. He returns with Princess Winifred. The queen does not approve of her and is determined to keep Princess Winifred from passing her “test” in order to marry her son. Dauntless and Winifred fall in love. The queen is determined to make her test unpassable. She places one tiny pea amongst 20 mattresses to see if the princess is delicate enough to feel the pea. If Princess Winifred sleeps peacefully without finding the pea in the mattresses, she fails the test. Will King Sextimus be able to speak once the curse is lifted? Will “the mouse devour the hawk”? Will Princess Winifred pass the test and marry the Prince? Will they all live happily ever after?
Queen Aggravain (Tamara Reber) did a great job as the “evil” queen who does everything she can to keep her son single. Reber’s accent was consistent through the entire performance. I think my favorite song that she and the wizard sang, was Sensitivity. She has a great voice and stage presence. King Sextimus (Danny Hansen) did such a good job as the “mute” king. I’m sure it was really difficult to play charades for most of his performance. He didn’t miss a step, even when one of the jewels fell off his crown. Making the queen hop, skip and jump at the end stole the scene. He did a great job teaching his son, Prince Dauntless about the birds and bees.
Prince Dauntless was a very likable character. He played the mommy’s boy prince perfectly. His Man to Man talk number was my favorite. Princess Winifred (Kelsea Burton) was delightful in her role as the chosen fiancee. Her voice was spot on the entire performance and her physical comedy matched her acting ability. The favorite song she did tonight was Happily Ever After. Great stage presence. All eyes were on her when she was on stage.
Sir Harry (Devin Anderson) has a wonderful voice–he didn’t miss a note. He and Lady Larken had great chemistry. Way to go on his kissing scenes! Lady Larken (Katie Tremelling) has a beautiful voice and great chemistry with Sir Harry. She did a great job in all of her scenes and played off the other characters in the story with a fearless loveliness.
Minstrel (Indiana Jones) was really cute with the kids in his Prologue. Jester (Meghann Eide) can really dance and sing and was great in scenes with the King and Minstrel and is a very likable character. Wizard (Dee Rich) was fun to watch and played off the queen very well. The two actors made you think something else might be going on there in their relationship with each other.
The choreography by Heather Shurtleff had all her players moving well together. As with most community theater productions, the dancing was basic and very effective. Hair and make up by Jessie Bailey and costuming by Janice Ruesch and Debbie Grimm made for a very pretty and royal-looking production. Scenic Design by director/producer Noel Perry was wonderful. We especially loved the huge mattress construction. Music director Trevor Walker has given his performers excellent instruction, as the principles all had clear, lovely voices and we enjoyed it a great deal.
Perry has created a lovely production for this community and I would recommend all who can attend make it a priority. He uses his actors well and keeps them moving from scene to scene with energy and fun.
A small note about the lack of theater etiquette: My only “negative” comment is that for an opening night there wasn’t very much family or community support. We counted about 50 people. There was also a little girl who was literally rolling down the aisle during the performance. It was VERY distracting. Until another audience member said: “This child’s mother better take care of their friggin kid or I’m going to” loud enough for the mother to hear, thankfully. She finally required her child to stay seated, but the show was almost over. The Heritage Center Theatre is a very nice venue. If the place would have been full, I would hope that the mother of that small child would have done something sooner.
That being said, I hope that the community will come enjoy this show. It is really fun!
The Heritage Center Theatre May 27th, 28th, 30th & June 3rd, 4th, 6th 2016
General Admission – $12, Seniors, Students, Children 12 and under – $8
The Heritage Center is located to the North of the parking garage