Another masterpiece production at The Princeton Festival

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The main entrance to the Ramada is your first welcome to the Rrazz Room.

Once Upon A Mattress – show review. 

The Princeton Festival’s habit of producing masterpieces time after time does show a lack of consideration for reviewers, who are thereby deprived of the opportunity to write the sort of sarcastic witticisms so beloved by many of the reviewer tribe. However, it is a great habit as far as audiences are concerned – who get a Broadway quality (or better) show for a whole lot less money and trouble than attending theater in New York costs.

The Festival’s tradition is well maintained in this season’s production of Once Upon A Mattress. I risk boring the reader by writing a review that consists entirely of superlatives but – I’m sorry – my hands are tied. First the music: Perhaps my memory is clouded but I am convinced the singing was better than what I heard in the Broadway original. The production values were also excellent. The costumes by Marie Miller were lavish and the sets well designed by Nathalie Schlosser and expertly constructed. 

The Queen and the Prince in Once Upon A Matress at the Princeton Festival.John Charles McLaughlin’s crystal clear voice excelled in the role of minstrel and it didn’t hurt a thing that he is also very good looking. Good looking ranging all the way to downright beautiful, by the way, is a term that applies to all the young people in the cast – every one of them. Evangelia Kingsley as the domineering Queen Aggravain did a superb job of broadly acting the role and fully realizing its comic potential. Patrick James was delight as the pantomiming King Sextimus. Shannon Rakow was excellent as Lady Rowena but did a real star turn as the nightingale (special mention of the fabulous costume!) Charlie Duncan as the endearingly dorky Prince Dauntless was believable and fun to watch. Morgan Griffith as Lady Larkin, John Kemp as the wizard, Tyler Brunsman as the jester, Morgan Stewart as Lady Merrill, Kaylen Altmeyer as Lady Lucille, Erica Harris as Princess # 12, the kitchen wench and Mabelle, Mark Edmundson as sir Harry, Michael Niederer as Sir Luce, Christopher Proulx as Sir Studley and Jovanni Guzman as Sir Howard filled out a cast in which each performer created a fully believable interpretation of their character and drew the audience into the imaginary world. Every one of them is a serious singer as well. All of the above credits being given, I must say Stephanie Sine as Princess Winifred stole the show. Her acrobatic acting, theater-filling voice (there were a couple of moments when I recalled Ethel Merman, whom I had the privilege of hearing live, way back in my long vanished youth) and general persona in this role were just amazing and fully deserved the audience’s thunderous applause

Next we must mention Stacey Jackson’s outstanding choreography and the cast’s clear evidence of much well-used rehearsal time. This cast can dance. If I was forced to pick the best dancer, I’d have to say Jovanni Guzman for elegance and perfect timing but it would be a close call with several others. 

Director Andrew Chown deserves much credit for this production, as does music director Jack Bender for the excellent orchestra and Elaine Wong for the beautiful lighting effects. If for some reason you can’t see a Festival production this year, by all means stay alert for next year’s schedule. You’ll be well rewarded.
www.princetonfestival.org

 

Once Upon A Mattress – show review. 

The Princeton Festival’s habit of producing masterpieces time after time does show a lack of consideration for reviewers, who are thereby deprived of the opportunity to write the sort of sarcastic witticisms so beloved by many of the reviewer tribe. However, it is a great habit as far as audiences are concerned – who get a Broadway quality (or better) show for a whole lot less money and trouble than attending theater in New York costs.