2012-11-08 / News

Cast gets ready for opening night of “Once Upon a Mattress”

Play is an adaptation of “Princess and the Pea”

PHOTOS BY JEFF MCDONOUGH PHOTOS BY JEFF MCDONOUGH The entire cast of “Once Upon a Mattress” took their places on the recreation center stage at Tuesday night’s dress rehearsal, while 15-year-old talent Dana Larkin set the fairy tale mood.

The Jamestown Community Theatre’s new production of the popular musical opens on Friday at 7 p.m. There will be six performances over the coming two weekends.

Dana has been performing in community theater shows since she was 7, according to Mary Wright, co-founder of the drama group. She’s a North Kingstown High student now, and she delivered the show’s opening number about a prince’s search for a genuine princess and other goings on “many moons ago in a far off land.”

The show is always a winner, said Wright, ever since Carol Burnett originated the role of Princess Winnifred on Broadway in 1959.

Wright said Jamestown’s Julie Andrews, the director, suggested doing “Once Upon a Mattress,” and the theater board ultimately approved her choice.

Andrews has added a children’s ensemble and created opportunities for youngsters to be part of the show, along with the adults.

Although it might be hard to imagine a new wrinkle for the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale about the princess and the pea, Jamestowners are adding something original to the story, according to Reagan Sanchez of Lawn Avenue School.

Reagan and classmate Alex Adamiste, both 11 and in sixth grade, have penned an introduction, she said. Their prologue sums up the plot, acquaints the audience with the location of the rec center’s emergency exits and gives a few other tips.

“Alex and I wrote it together,” Reagan said.

“Miss Julie read over the first draft and gave it to last year’s director,” Reagan said, referring to Wright. “She typed up an intro that had everything we needed to say and is also a little funny.”

Reagan, the daughter of Julio and Ellen Sanchez, said this is her first time performing. “I saw Cinderella two years ago and Wizard last year. I wanted to be the announcer, and I’m doing it this year, so I’m really happy.”

Alex said she originally started working with the theater troupe for social reasons.

“My friends were in it, and it turned into a chance to hang out with my friends,” she said. “Then it turned into something bigger that I wanted to do.”

Alex and Reagan are also part of the children’s ensemble, as is Colette Fortenberry, 8, who plays a little princess and a lily pad.

“It’s fun being the lily pad,” Colette said. “You just have a really cute costume.”

Many of the costumes have been adapted from previous shows and are sparking conversation, as people remember them from past productions. Julia Totten, 9, wore a black velveteen and green costume to play her role in the children’s ensemble. Julia, the daughter of Bart and Laura Totten, said her dress was originally a Halloween witch costume, which she wore in second grade.

“It still fits,” she said.

Sara Head, 9, is in the fourth grade at Melrose Avenue School. She said the beginning is one of her favorite parts of the show. Sara is in the children’s ensemble, and she also plays the nightingale that squawks. Along with the beginning, the squawk is her favorite part of the show, Sara said, as she demonstrated it by pushing out her elbows to amplify the volume.

This production is also a first Jamestown show for Katherine Hammersley, 22, who plays Lady Larkin, a woman in waiting at the royal court. Hammersley graduated from college in May.

“I didn’t have time to do a show while I was in college,” she said, and after graduation, she started looking for a community group. She sings a couple of duets in the show and is also part of a trio.

Some past performers have branched out from acting to working with the crew.

Rossibel Kurz of Jamestown is working as the sound technician.

“I make sure people sound good,” she said. “I want to learn the behind the stage, and I feel it will give me an extra bonus instead of just being a performer.” Kurz is an actress and is hoping to become a dancer.

“I’m really honored to be working with this crew,” she said.

“Once Upon a Mattress” will take place on two consecutive weekends, starting Nov. 9. Friday and Saturday performances will begin at 7 p.m., and curtains will rise for Sunday performances at 4 p.m. All shows will take place at the recreation center. Advanced tickets are $13 for general admission, $8 for seniors and children. Prices will increase $3 if purchased at the door.

Other stars of the play are Natalie Toland, who plays Princess Winnifred, and Witt Tarantino, who will portray Prince Dauntless. The queen and king will be played by Valerie Tarantino and Terry Horsley. Deborah Viera Murphy is the wizard, and Liam Gamon is the jester. Josephine Wagner is the queen’s attendant. Tom Wiggin, David Fuquea and Owen White play Sir Studley, Sir Harry and Sir Luce.

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