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Park High School stages 'Once Upon a Mattress' for spring play

Park High School's theater department is staging "Once Upon a Mattress" as its spring musical, which opens Friday, April 26. Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner

Any musical comedy that has cannons that shoot confetti has got to be a lot of fun to watch.

The cast of Park High School's "Once Upon a Mattress," thinks so, too, because during rehearsals and backstage, actors are smiling, having a good time and are full of joy.

A take on the fairy tale, "Princess and the Pea," the production is set in a fairy tale kingdom ruled by devious Queen Aggravain and King Sextimus the Silent who is mute.

All marriages are on hold until a princess can be found to marry Prince Dauntless the Drab. Enter Princess Winnifred the Woebegone, but is she "the one?" The queen has some tests that Winnifred, who is brash and unrefined, must pass. Mayhem ensues.

The play is crazy and fantastic, according to Maddie Franz, who portrays Winnifred. She's in her first leading role.

"It's nerve-wracking at times," she said while on a break during a recent rehearsal. "The play is so bright and out there. In a way, the costumes are kind of Oz-like."

Michaela Silvis is grinning most of the time, but that's because she plays the jester, a role not far from her personality.

"I'm pretty comical in real life," she said.

Mollie Sehman is having a lot of fun, too.

"It's been a great experience and gets me out of my comfort zone," she said.

Mitchell Jensen said he likes "the high energy of the play." Information in the story is delivered indirectly. The atmosphere is very "loosey goosey."

Over her four years of interest in theater, Danny Johnson said she has found her niche. She likes working the technical side off stage. Finding makeup and hair as areas she's good at, she plans to attend cosmetology school after she graduates this year.

"It's so much fun," she said, "and I love doing hair. The hair for this play is medieval but has a pop to it."

The show is for a younger audience, said director Tracy Caponigri. "It really sparks their interest."

The cast's first performance was Tuesday when nearly 300 first-, second- and third-graders were invited to a show of their own.

At least one of the shows performed during each school year is tailored toward children. Originally, the drama department planned to do "Cinderella," but the rights were restricted after it was brought back to Broadway in New York this year, Caponigri said.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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