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  • Writer's pictureKimberly Laberge

Princess and the Pea takes a marshy twist

The most delicate, sensitive princess story of all... told through the raunchiest, most irreverent happily ever after. Once Upon a Mattress is a jazzed (and boozed) up edition of The Princess and the Pea, put up by Carroll University in partnership with Theater RED through November 23rd.

All photos courtesy of Traveling Lemur Productions. Back: Robby McGhee (King Sextimus), Hannah Esch (Queen Aggravain), atop mattresses: Tim Albrechtson (Prince Dauntless), Marcee Doherty-Elst (Princess Winnifred), left to right: Alexis Nyren (Ensemble), Joe Picchetti (Wizard), Ceci Scalish (Lady Rowena), Corey Richards (Minstrel), Laura McDonald (Lady Lucille) Matt Specht (Jester), SaraLynn Evenson (Lady Merrill), Bryanna VanCaster (Lady Larken), Eric Welch (Sir Harry); foreground left to right: Brad Weller (Ensemble), Ky Peters (Ensemble), Jay Nolan (Ensemble).

Corey Richards sets the scene with his delightfully grandiose musical narrations as the Minstrel. He sets the tone for the rest of the performance - the show has much of the glamour of a fairytale, but its contents are far less idyllic. Instead, he warns us of how things really happened...

Left to right: Laura McDonald (Lady Lucille), Marcee Doherty-Elst (Princess Winnifred), Ceci Scalish (Lady Rowena); front: SaraLynn Evenson (Lady Merrill); back: Tim Albrechtson (Prince Dauntless).

Starring the dopey Prince Dauntless (Tim Albrechtson) and the crass Princess Winnifred, or just Fred (Marcee Doherty-Elst), the romance is immediately set in the tone of first-time flirters. The charm is there, but it is overwhelmed by awkwardness, and the result is both engaging and side-splitting.

Tim Albrechtson (Prince Dauntless), Hannah Esch (Queen Aggravain).

The kingdom is ruled under Hannah Esch's Queen Aggravain, who has declared that none shall wed until her baby Dauntless shared his marriage bed. She is all too opposed to letting him out of her grasp, and shares her maternal instinct with the audience in the show-stealing number "That Baby of Mine".

Eric Welch (Sir Harry), Bryanna VanCaster (Lady Larken).

Eric Welch brings out the frivolity of the show both on and offstage, as the director, wig designer, and Sir Harry - the Mattress equivalent of a Sir Lancelot type. His voice, a traditional musical theatre tenor, contrasts with his lovely Lady Larken (Bryanna VanCaster) who brings a bright, comical tone to her role. The duo is delectably kitschy.

The scenic design, by Justin Gale, is both practical and expressive. The stage is adorned with a variety of odd seats, ranging from thrones to a rocking horse to a toilet seat. The visual emulates the structure of a royal court, but each perch has character of its own and speaks to those who use it.

Once Upon a Mattress is lively and rambunctious. With a traditional concept and a modern flair, the show is an uproarious evening for the adults looking to spice up the traditional Disney narrative. Carroll and Theater Red will leave you happily happy, and thoroughly satisfied.


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