Actors’ NET of Bucks County’s ONCE UPON A MATTRESS Is Hilarious Romp

by Arlene Price Kohler

ONCE UPON A MATTRESS was written as an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Princess and the Pea”, at Tamiment Resort in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Carol Burnett, a then unknown, originated the role of Princess Winnifred. I can only ponder which came first: the play or the actress?

Actors’ NET has presented this fractured fairy tale with such a strong cast and crew that the evening is nothing short of a hilarious romp. Let’s begin with the set. Cheryl Doyle has created just the right atmosphere; a background of cartoonish stones for the castle walls. She utilizes a rectangular box on wheels; on one side, the king and queens’ throne, the flip side, a castle wall and cleverly hidden underneath, the required mattresses, all 20 of them. The costumes are colorful and work well with the set.

There is no deep and thought provoking script, just this fractured fairy tale. But there is singing (and what great singing it is), dancing (well executed choreography provided by Dani Tucci-Juraga) and really good comedic shtick. You will spend the evening laughing and smiling. I cannot think of a better remedy to relieve the stress of the holidays. Consider it a gift to yourself.

Joe Doyle directs this cast of twenty two performers. He moves them across the stage with ease, creating little vignettes in which they deliver their lines. And deliver they do!  This is a brilliant ensemble group. Any one of the leads could ‘steal the show’.  All are controlled enough not to.  John Bergeron and Kate Skelly as Sir Harry and Lady Larkin enchant us with ‘In a Little While’, he with his wonderfully rich baritone, she with her sweet soprano. Bergeron has created a wonderful comic persona for his knightly performance.

Cheryl Mazzarini as Princess Winnifred is just dazzling. Her stage presence, her voice and her comedic timing are perfect. I just loved the musical number ‘Shy’.  Again the question: which came first the actress or the play? This young woman could carry the show all by herself. Lucky for us she doesn’t have to.

Scotty Lutz as Prince Dauntless entertains us with his wonderful facial expressions and gangly body movements, a real treat to watch. My companion for the evening was surprised when, after the show, she found that Lutz was actually a charming, attractive and intelligent young man.

Ed Patton plays King Sextimus, who is mute. Great…no lines to memorize but you have got to be a heck of an actor to pull this off… all facial expressions and body movement. Patton does it brilliantly.

One of the evening’s biggest treats is Pam Jorgensen as Queen Aggravain. Truly a gifted actress, delightful to watch and can this woman sing! Wow! Elizabeth Newberry is a standout in the ladies ensemble: great stage presence, love the smile and what a talented dancer. Marco Newton, a Net regular has a wonderful time as the Wizard.

And last, but most certainly not least, we had the wonderful musical direction of Susan Barto who, along with husband, Jim Barto, a brilliant musician, and her granddaughter, Melinda, on trumpet, provided us with some splendid music.

The only thing left to say is “Go see it !!!”

I promise you will not be disappointed.

Music by Mary Rodgers
Lyrics by Marshall Barer
Book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Marshall Barer
Directed by Cheryl Doyle
December 3 – 19, 2010
Actors’ NET of Bucks County
635 N. Delmorr Avenue (Route 32)
Morrisville, PA

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