‘Mattress’ is a crowd favorite … again

  • Brianna Sink leads the fun as Princess Winnifred in the HMHS production of "Once Upon a Mattress," which runs Jan. 11 and 12 at Hopkinton Middle High School. —Courtesy of Todd Burdette

  • Bryton Hanchett strums along as the minstrel in the HMHS production of "Once Upon a Mattress," which runs Jan. 11 to 12 at Hopkinton Middle High School. —Courtesy of Todd Burdette

  • They have an opening for a princess in this kingdom, where Prince Dauntless, played by Colby Malcolm (center), waits for his true love. "Once Upon a Mattress" runs Jan. 11 to 12 at Hopkinton Middle High School. —Courtesy of Todd Burdette

  • Sir Harry (Tommy Hardenbergh) and Lady Larkin (Erin Donahue) sing their love must wait a little while in "Once Upon a Mattress." —Courtesy of Todd Burdette

  • Sir Harry (Tommy Hardenbergh) and Lady Larkin (Erin Donahue) sing their love must wait a little while in "Once Upon a Mattress." —Courtesy of Todd Burdette

  • Brianna Sink is anything but shy as the energetic Princess Winnifred in "Once Upon a Mattress." —Courtesy of Todd Burdette

  • Brianna Sink is anything but shy as the energetic Princess Winnifred in "Once Upon a Mattress." —Courtesy of Todd Burdette

  • Brianna Sink is anything but shy as the energetic Princess Winnifred in "Once Upon a Mattress." —Courtesy of Todd Burdette

  • Prince Dauntless (Colby Malcolm) won’t marry the princess if Queen Aggravain (Lily Tobin) has anything to say about it. "Once Upon a Mattress" runs Jan. 11 and 12 at Hopkinton Middle High School. —Courtesy of Todd Burdette

  • Producing a unique and remarkable blend are the Minstrel (Bryton Hanchett, right), the Jester (Maggie Regan, left) and the King (Patrick Quinn, center). —Courtesy of Todd Burdette

For the Monitor
Published: 1/8/2019 2:16:43 PM

Dressed in the costume of a proper Lady-in-Waiting, Hopkinton High School junior Erin Donahue stands beneath a play poster with her sister Emma’s face on it. It’s from the 2011 school production of Once Upon a Mattress.

“When I first saw it I always wanted to be in a show like that,” she said. Now, in the role of Lady Larkin, it’s her and her classmates’ turn to bring Once Upon a Mattress to the high school stage.

A musical take on The Princess and the Pea fable, Once Upon a Mattress has been a staple of student and community theater for decades. The story takes place in a kingdom where no one can get married until the prince finds a bride. Enter the unrefined and effervescent Princess Winnifred. The only thing standing between her and a happy ending is the scheming queen and a bed piled with 20 mattresses.

Director Paula Demers says the show’s broad comedy is part of its appeal.

“The characters are very much like caricatures. They’re over the top, silly, almost beyond real,” Demers said.

Aside from Once Upon a Mattress’s popular success, Demers says bringing back the hit has nothing to do with box office. She says this show best suits this group of student actors.

“When we select a show, we look at the students we have. Is it something they will enjoy doing, feel proud of? Is this a show in which they can succeed?” she said.

One of those actors is Brianna Sink in the lead role of Princess Winnifred. The junior says she’s trying to channel in her performance Carol Burnett – who originated the role on Broadway in 1959 – and Sarah Jessica Parker – who led the show’s revival in 1996.

“I try to make the character my own,” said Sink. “She’s goofy. She thinks she’s shy, but she doesn’t realize how different she is from the others because of where she comes from.”

The play’s narrator is the Minstrel, played by senior Bryton Hanchett. “I love that he breaks the fourth wall, talking to the audience, being a storyteller, then stepping back into the show with the characters,” said Hanchett.

“The songs are fun and incorporate the quirky aspects of the show to give even more enjoyment to the audience,” said Music Director Bridgett Gattie. The play’s music was originally composed by Mary Rodgers, daughter of Broadway legend Richard Rodgers. “The vocalists have all been doing a fantastic job with the music as it is catchy.”

One performer who gets to rest his vocal cords is sophomore Patrick Quinn. He plays the mute King Sextimus the Silent and must pantomime his lines for much of the musical.

“It’s more of a challenge to do that,” said Quinn. “It’s like choreographing a dance for two hours.”

Other performers include Colby Malcolm as Prince Dauntless, Lily Tobin as Queen Aggravain, Tommy Hardenbergh as Sir Harry, Sara-Ann Bailinson as the Wizard, and Maggie Regan as the jester. The rest of the cast is comprised of Clara Walling, Kasey Czarnecki, Renee Brogan, Mareta Oberheim, Sara Larson, Ben Bickford, Teddy Lavoie, Spencer Burdette, Aiden Kennett, Steven Newton-Delgado, Lizi Dexter, Mia Richter, Katie Collins, Jaclyn French, Kirsten Hanchett, Madison Secore, Nate Platt, Maegan Raynard, Natalie Allen, Paige Ammann, Julia Baer, Annalise Locke, Albert Ridinger, Chelsea Thorne, Paige Wheeler, and Chloe Tworek.

Despite its timeless appeal, director Demers says this show is of-the-moment.

“People want to laugh now,” she said. “We all need something fun.”

While none in this cast took part in the 2011 production, many parents are returning for the promise of hummable tunes and belly laughs.

“My parents are really looking forward to seeing the show again,” said Donahue. “My sister is coming too. She’s excited to relive the show again.”

Once Upon a Mattress will run Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Hopkinton Middle High School, 297 Park Ave. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors. Tickets are available at the door and in the school office.




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