by Lorie Lewis Ham
If you enjoy princesses, comedy and fun music you should head out to see Once Upon A Mattress at the Reedley Opera House, being presented by the Reedley River City Theatre Company through May 25.
Once Upon A Mattress is a musical adaptation of the story of The Princess and the Pea and was first produced on Broadway in the ’50s. There are also some fairly well known TV adaptations. The basic story is about how no one in the kingdom can be married until they find a wife for Prince Dauntless, however his mother the Queen doesn’t want him to get married so she makes each princess go through impossible tests. But one day a very unusual princess named Winifred, or Fred, shows up and things get crazy. Dauntless is a mama’s boy and a bit on the naive side, but he falls for the tomboyish and bold Fred right away.
Also important to the story are Sir Harry and Lady Larken–they are in love and need to get married right away because Larken is expecting. So they become especially interested in making sure that Fred passes the test to marry Dauntless. You also have the King who is mute because of a curse, the Jester, the Wizard who is counsel to the Queen, and the Minstrel who is essentially telling the story. There are also other knights and ladies in waiting.
This is a fun, very over the top, comedy. Joseph Ham is funny and adorable as the naive Dauntless, Alina Gonzalez is perfectly crazy as Fred, Marianne McFarlin is frightening as the overbearing Queen, and Tommie Hill is amazingly hilarious without saying a word. Sir Harry, played by Samuel Simmons in his RCTC debut, is a full of himself knight who is a little clueless sometimes when it comes to romance. Jessica Runnels as Larken looks very much like a Disney princess with her long blonde hair and lovely gowns. Jessica and Sam are adorable together and Jessica’s voice is beautiful. Alina also has a beautiful and big voice which is perfect for her role, and she keeps the audience laughing.
Jacob Alvarado as the Wizard and Sarah Wiebe as the Jester add their own bits of comedy to the show as well, and Dottie Barsoom does a lovely job as the Minstrel–not only singing but also playing piano for some of the songs.
This is a less well known musical than what RCTC typically does, but the comedic side of it is one of their forte’s and it’s nice to see something I’ve never seen before. Everyone did a good job and the costumes were wonderful–thanks to Tommie Hill and Stephanie Barnett (many items were actually hand made by Hill).
If you are looking for some good old-fashioned fun at the theatre with plenty of laughter, fun songs, lovely voices and talented actors, then do not miss Once Upon A Mattress which continues on stage through May 25! Tickets can be purchased by calling 559-638-6500 or online on the RCTC website and you can keep up with them on KRL’s theatre event page as well.
Check out more local arts and entertainment articles in KRL’s A & E section.