Immaculata’s Cue and Curtain Players Present ONCE UPON A MATTRESS

by Arnie Finkel

The whimsical treatment of The Princess and the Pea called ONCE UPON A MATTRESS is on stage at Immaculata University.  Immaculata U. does not have a formal theater program.  This show is perfect for a small budget, extracurricular activity.  It’s especially fine if you find a leading lady to tackle the part made famous by Carol Burnett.

Dara Himes, the Winifred the Woebegone of this performance, was the highlight of the evening.  She is cute, petite and has a big voice.  Not only that, but she can sell a song, play the broad comedy required and manage it all with ease.  I was particularly impressed with her “Happily Ever After”, “Shy” and “The Swamps of Home”.

Amanda Morrell as Queen Aggravain, the villain of the piece, was appropriately loud and vile.  Her foil the Wizard was a good mixture of evil and ham. 

As Prince Dauntless the Drab, Billy Mitchell managed to sing well and seem as clueless as he needed to be.  Patti Ackell, the Lady Larken has a fine soprano, and as Sir Harry (just one of the pieces of humor to have such a simple name compared to the rest of the characters) James Tack looked every bit the dense hero.

Bill Beier as King Sextimus the Silent was at his mute best in the Birds and Bees number with Prince Dauntless.  The minstrel, who tells the story, Steve Rodolico, has a big voice and quite a range.  Mike Holland the Jester, though not a dancer, made the most of “When Daddy Wore His Very Soft Shoes”

The music for MATTRESS fits the book like a glove.  It’s by theater royalty Mary Rodgers.  Yes, she’s the daughter of Richard Rodgers and the mother of Adam Guettel composer of Floyd Collins and the wonderful The Light in the Piazza.  Lyrics are by Marshall Barer with book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller and Marshall Barer.

Musical Director, Sal Scinto, had his chorus well prepared.  His Orchestra provided adequate accompaniment-especially the trumpet, flute and string section.  And Director Sister Marcille McEntree kept the action moving along at a good clip.  Kudos for the Tableau during the first song.  It showed off the excellent costumes (Mistress Stacy Aneson) and made a good first impression when the cast didn’t move a muscle until required in the song.

I can excuse the sound difficulties with the body mikes and chalk it up to first night problems.  I’m sure it was fixed for the rest of the run.

I recommend this show to any group looking for a fun, inexpensive musical for their group.

Music by Mary Rodgers
Lyrics by Marshall Barer
Book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Marshall Barer
Directed by Sister Marcille McEntee
November 18 – 21, 2010
Cue and Curtain Players
Immaculata University
1145 King Rd.
Immaculata, Pennsylvania 19345
610.647.4400 x3022 or x3731

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1 comment

Jane S. November 20, 2010 - 11:14 pm

I know for a fact that IU does, in fact, have a music program. Also, Cue and Curtain is the theater program at the school. It may be a small school with a small music and theater program, but don’t discount the programs that they have there. They make them work with the resources that they have.


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