Carroll University and Theater Red’s production
of “Once Upon a Mattress” are, from left,
front row: Ky Peters (ensemble), Alexis Nyren
(ensemble), Marcee Doherty-Elst (Princess
Winnifred), Corey Richards (Minstrel), Laura
McDonald (Lady Lucille); back row: Jay Nolan
(ensemble), Hannah Esch (Queen Aggravain), Joe
Picchetti (Wizard), Matt Specht (Jester), Ceci
(Lady Rowenda) and SaraLynn Evenson (Lady
by Traveling Lemur Productions
- Some fairy tales take on a new life. Perhaps Carol
Burnett’s successful run of the original story
“Princess and the Pea,” translated into the musical
“Once Upon a Mattress,” might have had something to
do with its longevity and continued popularity.
and Theater Red collaborated on this production,
featuring students and other local actors. Several of
the characters are especially well-rendered.
off, Hannah Esch is perfect as Queen Aggravain. She is
nasty and overbearing and fun to loathe, a sentiment
everyone shares. Her voice and mien are standouts and
her outfits are stunning.
atypical princess, played by Marcee Doherty-Elst, fits
the bill perfectly. She refuses to echo the stereotype
as the docile, kowtowing daughter-in-law. Clumsy, brash
and gritty, her entrance after swimming the moat is
memorable. Her demeanor eventually convinces Prince
Dauntless to take on Mommy and become a man. Tim
Albrechtson is almost too childlike in his
interpretation of the role as the obsequious, gutless
Picchetti as the Wizard aces his performance in his solo
“Nightingale Lullaby” and Matt Specht also came
alive in his performance of “Very Soft Shoes.” But
the actor with the strongest vocals is Eric Welch as
Harry. His co-star Bryanna VanCaster as Lady Larkin
faced a challenge matching his musical ability, but her
spunk compensated. Eric also directed the show.
minor roles included King Sextimus, well-played by Robby
McGhee, who excelled in body language since that’s all
he had, and Laura Gray in her diverse roles as Princess
#12 and the scullery maid. Gray has a comic flair to be
by Ceci Scalish was well-coordinated and the ensemble
Sometimes the accompaniment by Julie Johnson was
a bit overpowering, though.
course the best scene was the climactic sensitivity
test. Scenic designer Justin Gale did a good job in
creating the royal palace with the focus on the
many-layered, colorful bed. The coterie of many mournful
ladies-in-waiting and their counterparts did a good job
in assuring Princess Winnifred’s success.
ends happily, except for Queen Aggravain, but no one but
she herself minded that. How she will ever adjust to a
husband and a son who can speak up for themselves is her
next challenge. Maybe she’ll jump into the moat.
by Cecelia Mason-Kuenn are colorful and fitting for the
time frame, nicely contrasted with the anachronism of
the boom box in the Spanish Panic scene.
old fairy tale still has legs, and this cast assuredly
found them. Long live princesses who don’t fit the
mold and princes who finally have the guts to stand up
to their overbearing mothers.
an enjoyable musical diversion in the lovely Otteson
Upon a Mattress”
play runs through Saturday, with a performance at 7:30
p.m. Friday and two performances on Saturday, at 2 p.m.
and 7:30 p.m., at
’s Otteson Theatre,
238 N. East Ave.
Waukesha. Tickets may be purchased at the door.