ATTICA - Most parents want the best for their children, but sometimes they project their own desires on their offspring. And often, parents are surprised by their children's wisdom, insight and competence. Over-protection may stifle self-confidence and prevent youth from achieving their dreams.
Such is the premise for "Once Upon a Mattress," being presented at Seneca East High School. Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
The musical is set in 1428 in a fictitious kingdom where an overbearing Queen Aggravain and a hen-pecked King Sextimus the Silent are searching for a bride for their only son, Prince Dauntless the Drab.
Jaclyn Willman as Princess Winnifred displays her talents for Ben Frankart as Prince Dauntless.
The Jester, King Sextimus the Silent and the Minstrel make plans to help Winnifred pass the Queen’s test. The actors (from left) are Seth Martin, Brady McWilliams and Mark Soski.
The royal family is portrayed by Theresa Barger, Brady McWilliams and Ben Frankart, respectively.
Mark Soski, as the Minstrel, opens the show with a musical account of the fairy tale, "Princess and the Pea," as a ballet dramatizes the action. Although it is a pretty story, the Minstrel says it is not accurate. He tells the audience they are about to see the real version, complete with a cast of unusual characters and plot with many twists and turns.
A law specifies the young couples in the kingdom cannot marry until the Prince does so. Dauntless is willing, but Aggravain and the Wizard (Alyson Groves) devise outlandish "tests" for each prospective princess.
When Sir Harry discovers his lover, Lady Larkin, is with child, he pledges to travel far and wide to find a spouse for the Prince so they can get married, along with all the other lovers. Mason McWilliams and Kaelan Vogt play Harry and Larkin.
Three weeks go by before he returns with a young woman. She is so anxious about "An Opening for a Princess," she jumps into the moat to reach the castle's entrance before Harry does.
Wet, bedraggled but undeterred, she describes herself as shy, but her behavior indicates the opposite. The prince is amazed to learn "she swam the moat!" He and everyone else think she could be "the one" - except Aggravain. She assumes a "moat-swimmer" could not be legitimate, until Harry arrives with the woman's credentials and introduces her as Princess Winnifred (Jaclyn Willman).
Dauntless begs for her to stay, and the queen reluctantly agrees to devise another test.
Meanwhile, the king learns about Larkin and Harry's predicament. He relays his concern in pantomime to the Minstrel and the Jester, played by Seth Martin. When Sextimus meets Winnifred, he likes her. Later, the mute king acts out a hilarious lesson about the birds and the bees for his son.
As Winnifred and the prince get acquainted, she describes "The Swamps of Home" and says she is determined to succeed at anything the queen throws at her. Unlike the princess characters in mythology, she has no fairy godmother to help her, so she must take care of herself.
The queen concocts a new test that seems to be fair but is not. Most people know about the pea under a stack of mattresses to test her sensitivity. The events leading to the test may not be so familiar: the "Spanish Panic," the squabble between Larkin and Harry, Dauntless' "Song of Love," the Jester's "Very Soft Shoes," the breaking of the king's curse and the other items that mysteriously turn up in mattresses.
Backing up the main characters is a chorus of dancing and singing servants, including: Cameil Ruffing, Katie Brown, Leah Miller, Megan Watson, Katie Frankart, Andy Hamons, Lantz Bohrer, Alexis Hartzell, Michaela Drown, Hayden Patton, Shelby Laughlin, Paityn Caudill, Marisa Twigg, Addie Daniel, Emma Bordner, Bobbie Hall, Alyson Groves, Zachary Young, Austin Stombaugh, Mykayla Ruffing, Lexi Willman, Bailey England and Skyler Gould.
Heather Hunker is directing.
The colorful costumes also add to the production, along with its uplifting themes of creativity, friendship and love that triumph in spite of harsh judgments and false appearances.
Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students.