Once Upon a Mattress by Springfield High School in Springfield, PA
March 7, 2017
Review submitted by Josh Myers of Marple Newtown High School
Classic humor and big laughs sat loftily upon twenty mattresses in Springfield High School’s production of Once Upon A Mattress. Written collaboratively by Jay Thompson, Marshall Barer, Mary Rodgers, and Dean Fuller in 1959, the plot follows the ‘true’ story of the classic fable “The Princess and the Pea”. However, this comedic fractured fairy tale is comprised of a very colorful cast, incorporating a rowdy princess, a childishly naive prince, a doting evil queen, a mute king, an overconfident knight, and many other equally zany characters.
The main cast of characters all performed extraordinarily well. Michaela Henry fronted the show wonderfully, portraying the genuine-but-unrefined Princess Winnifred; her infectious smile lit up the stage, bringing with her an impressive amount of lively energy in addition to her impressive vocals, wowing the audience with her song “Shy.” As the show progressed, she continued to keep her energy up, her enthusiasm for the show captured by her performance of “Happily Ever After.” Zoe Hunchak played the role of Queen Aggravain, the show’s antagonist and Princess Winnifred’s polar opposite; Hunchak brought with her the humorously exaggerated air of a doting mother, unready to let her son go, entertaining the audience with her comically long-winded spiels. Like Henry and Hunchak, Alan Oruska, playing Sir Harry, brought an impressive amount of stage presence and charm to his endearingly overconfident character. Personating the mute King Sextimus, Jason Breslin managed to comically express all of his emotions using only his body, leaving the audience in tears in scenes such as “Man-to-Man Talk.” The Jester, the king’s loyal sidekick, was played by Evelyn Kampmeyer; despite this role being traditionally cast as a male role, Kampmeyer nevertheless performed marvelously, impressing the audience with her remarkable vocal talent. Likewise to Kampmeyer, the performances of Matt Storti and Jacqui Napier, who played Prince Dauntless and Lady Larkin, respectively, were equally enjoyable.
Supporting the strong main cast was the amusing and quirky ensemble; standouts include the four knights – Christian Williams, Jacob McAndrews, Andrew SanFilippo, and Steven Miller – whose goofy and bumbling antics entertained and amused the entire audience. Marissa Perri also stood out from the rest the ensemble; her line in the role of Lady H had split the sides of the entire audience, and her role as the Nightingale likewise amused the house. To speak of the ensemble as a whole, the entire group kept the energy up in Act One, especially in “The Song of Love,” however their energy seemed to decline throughout Act Two, resulting in a somewhat lackluster finale. Despite the dip in energy, Springfield High School’s ensemble gave a generally good and amusing performance.
Overall, Springfield High School’s production of Once Upon A Mattress was more than just ‘good.’ The cast breathed such life and energy to a somewhat dated and dry comedy, and made the show into something more. Such a deed is truly laudable, and Springfield High School’s cast deserves to be commended for their efforts.
Review submitted by Zak Zabinski of Germantown Academy
Springfield High School’s royal performance of Once Upon A Mattress was simply medieval magic!
Once Upon A Mattress originally opened on Off-Broadway in 1959 and was soon moved to Broadway in the same year. It is a show of many tricks, turns and fun sneaky characters. While one might think no millennial could relate to a show about medieval life, it actually portrays relatable topics. One topic being that no matter how much people do not believe in you, you can still rise to the top and become the new princess of the land, such as Winnifred, the main character, did.
The cast of Once Upon A Mattress locked into their characters’ persona and made each a crucial aspect to the performance as a whole. Smiles, energy and beautiful singing made the fun and upbeat show creative and captivating.
Each featured actor in this production wowed me and left me wanting more from each of them. Winnifred, played by Michaela Henry, had perfect comedic energy while not missing a beat with her beautiful singing voice. Zoe Hunchak, as Queen Aggravain, was sassy, funny and stole the show with her fabulous voice. Alan Oruska played Sir Harry and made each movement a comedic experience while also impressing me with his lovely singing abilities.
The King, Jester and Minstrel played by Jason Breslin, Evelyn Kampmeyer and Nick Vecchione, were a memorable trio throughout the production. The ensemble was funny and brought lots of energy and good facial expressions to the group numbers and scenes. While sometimes the ensemble felt clunky and unsure about what to do and where to be, they made up for it with humor and excitement.
The set was intricate and intriguing and added to the enjoyment of the show. The cast utilized the set and made it seem like part of their world.
Once upon a time, Springfield High School’s Once Upon A Mattress left me mesmerized and in awe with the talent, charisma and charm displayed.