Cappies Review: South Lake High School’s Once Upon A Mattress

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by Alyssa Stark of Lake Minneola High School

“Once Upon A Mattress” as performed by South Lake High School was a light-hearted comedy containing a few gems of musical numbers and a cast that shone.

“Once Upon A Mattress” tells the “true” story of “The Princess and the Pea.” It isn’t the simple fairy tale we’re used to: this story involves a domineering Queen as mother to a Prince who is soon to be married. The difficulty is in finding someone the Queen approves of for him to marry. In the meantime, the entire kingdom suffers, forbidden from marrying before the Prince does. When a new princess appears, the characters of the court, from the silly jester to the new minstrel to the cursed, silent king conspire to help her pass the Queen’s test and see the Prince and kingdom happily married at last.

This show’s strongest point was in the actors’ motions. Beginning with a pantomime silently playing out Sierra McGovern’s Minstrel’s story, the gestures and facial expressions of the cast remained varied and animated throughout the production, even as they added speech and song to their performance. Silently mocking Alyssa Santana’s Queen behind her back always guaranteed a laugh from the audience.

Sydney Bruenen was Princess Winnifred the Woebegone, the awkward princess from the swamps. Just call her Fred. Bruenen did a great job of portraying this character in a comedic and not-at-all painful way, even though keeping boisterous, fish out of water Winnifred entertaining as opposed to embarrassing looked like a challenge. Adonis Collado was Prince Dauntless the Drab, and started off the play as a grumpy, mumbling child. As the show progressed, so did Collado’s character, and he showed off an excited and even romantic side.

Alyssa Santana played Queen Aggravain. Although the Queen was an over the top shrieking, demanding, imposing figure, Santana managed to play her with sincerity – amping up the comedic effect, as she made the audience believe she really believed she was always right. Cody Fitkin was King Sextimus, the most expressive mute to ever see a stage, managing to communicate with gestures to both the characters and the audience, and even “singing” a song!

Carly Zeuner played the Jester, a vibrant character who brought together various members of the court and did her best to do things right. When she spoke or danced, the audience noticed her as much as a real princess would the pea under her mattress – or the suitcase or the eagle statue, that the Jester hid under Winnifred’s own mattress. Marissa Weis played Lady Larken, with a soaring singing voice that conveyed very realistic love, anger, jealousy, and thankfully, love again.

The costumes of this show really stood out. The dancers’ costumes were cleverly designed to allow freedom of motion while keeping the medieval theme, and the Jester’s costume and makeup were as colorful as her character.

South Lake High School’s “Once Upon A Mattress” was a funny, unconventional fairy tale with great dance numbers and captivating characters.

This is a Cappies review of the performance of Once Upon A Mattress at South Lake High School on Saturday, 4/30/2016.

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