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(Posted 8 a.m., March 25)
Sir Wil's musical take on classic fairy tale a real treat

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

King Sextimus gets his voice back in the Sir Wilfrid Laurier production on 'Once Upon A Mattress'. Fred Sherwin/Photo

The Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School theatre company decided to put a musical spin on the classic fairy tale "The Princess and the Pea" this year and the result could easily put the cast of Glee to shame.

"Once Upon A Mattress" has al the elements of an entertaining high school musical -- catchy tunes, plenty of laughs, a sprinkling of witty double entrendre and an abundance of energy and enthusiasm.

The story is fairly simple. A curse has been placed on the King making him mute and enabling the Queen to rule over the kingdom without any interference. For the curse to be lifted, Prince Dauntless needs to marry a true princess.

There's no shortage of female suitors, but they must first pass a test to show they are worthy for the role. The only problem is the Queen has fixed the tests with the help of the Court Wizard to make them virtually impossible to pass so she can remain in control.

Her plans hit a snag when Winnifred the Woebegone shows up. Winnifred is not the wisest of princess candidates, nor is she the most talented, but rather than subject her to a series of questions, the Queen tells her she must spend the night on a stack of mattresses with a pea placed under one of them. If she falls asleep she fails the test. If she can remains awake for the entire night she passes.

The sub-plot to the play is that no one in the kingdom can get married until the Prince finds a bride. Needless to say they are a lot of frustrated couples in the kingdom including Sir Harry and Lady Larkin who is with child. They are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure Winnifred passes the test and marries Prince Dauntless.

In the end, Winnifred passes the test and marries the Prince allowing Harry and Larkin to do the same and lifting the curse on the King who uses his new found voice to put the Queen in her place.

There were a number of performances that stood out. Two of my favourites were Katie Gratton's opening solo as the Minstrel entitled "Many Moons Ago", and Liam Schwisberg and Lauren Albright duet "In A Little While" as Sir Harry and Lady Larkin. Kayla Bailey's solo "Shy" as Winnifred the Woebegone was also quite good, but it was the ensemble performances where the cast really shone.

As for the rest of the lead actors Ryan Griffith was hilarious as King Sextimus, especially when he had to mime all his lines, and Bridget Dueck was wonderfully irritating as Queen Aggravain.

In truth, everyone in the cast should be proud of their performance. It was highly entertaining and everyone who attended Friday night's performance left with a smile on their face and a catchy tune in their head.

I would also be remiss if I didn't single out Amanda Collie who did double duty as Lady Merrill and the play's costume designer and seamtress, which is no small feat given the fact there were 25 students in the cast and each cast member had at least two costumes.

Besides playing Lady Larken, Lauren Albright was also head of make-up, hair and choreography.

Keeping everyone on point was drama teacher Sonya Schrum who is probably already looking ahead to next year's production.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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