Kutztown High brings to life musical comedy ‘Once Upon a Mattress’

Kutztown High School cast rehearses “Once Upon a Mattress.”
Kutztown High School cast rehearses “Once Upon a Mattress.” Brady Tucker - Digital First Media
Kutztown High School cast rehearses “Once Upon a Mattress.”
Kutztown High School cast rehearses “Once Upon a Mattress.” Brady Tucker - Digital First Media

More than 50 students from Kutztown Area School District are gearing up to perform the musical comedy of “Once Upon a Mattress.”

The musical, an adaptation from the classic fairytale “The Princess and the Pea,” is a story about a kingdom ruled by a terrible queen, Queen Aggravain, who makes it seemingly impossible for anyone to marry her son, Prince Dauntless, and refuses to let anyone in her kingdom marry. The kingdom’s luck changes though when Winifred the Woebegone enters into the life of the young prince. Determined to marry the prince, Winifred does everything she can to pass the test of the queen.

Many new faces play a major part in this year’s musical and are very excited about this opportunity, beginning with the director, Samantha Clarke.

“What excites me about it is that it’s fun and it’s whimsical but yet there is still a really important message about being strong. Even if you’re not the typical princess, even if you don’t typically fit into a mold, you can still find love and acceptance.”

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Clarke, new to the musical scene at Kutztown, thinks very highly of the students she has been able to work with.

“They are putting in a lot of hard work. There is a lot of personality here and it has been an absolute pleasure just seeing their personalities come alive because they have so much color and character in them already, so it has been fun just encouraging them to use that natural skill they have which is themselves.”

Along with new faces, there are many important musical veterans that will also be gracing the stage this fall. Olivia Sica, 17, a senior, plays the lead role of Winifred the Woebegone. Olivia has been a part of Kutztown’s musicals since she was in seventh grade, and is appreciative of how her experiences with the musical has changed her.

“Just being able to work with an ensemble is probably the biggest part because when you do a show you have to learn to collaborate with other people.”

Asher Cooper, 17, a junior who plays the lead role of Prince Dauntless, was influenced early in middle school to join the musical, and has loved it ever since.

“When I was in sixth grade, Kutztown was putting on the production of ‘Hello, Dolly’, and there was this giant dance scene when Dolly returns to her home town. It was just really cool to see everybody participating, including teachers and kids of all ages and everybody just really energetic and that’s what inspired me to join.”

The cast and crew pride themselves on being one big family, and that was especially expressed by Julia Mace, 17, a senior who plays the Minstrel.

“Ever since my freshman year when I was just getting into it, it’s just been like a family. I have had a lot of fun with the whole cast, just acting and hanging out with these people, it’s great. We aren’t just friends within the musical but we are friends outside of it, too.”

Aside from the main people you see on stage, there is a lot of work being put in behind the scenes, especially with the stage crew. Paul Ache, a senior member of the stage crew, stresses the importance of a stage crew with any musical.

“Stage crew is pretty important because they may not be seen, well, hopefully not seen, but without them there wouldn’t really be much of a show. People have to work the lights, sound, and, of course, move the props. Without them it would seem like a bunch of crazy people dancing for nothing.”

Nathan Hayduk, 17, also a senior, plays the supporting role of Sir Harry. Being a part of the musical productions since seventh grade, Nathan is excited to share the stage one last time with his friends.

“Since it’s my senior year it’s special. It’s not only the show you get to see but it’s the experience that we have working up to the show and the behind the scenes being a part of one big family. This is what you want to leave the school with. You want it to be the best you can be and you work really hard to try to get to that point.”

This year’s musical production is sure to exemplify the hard work put in by each member of the cast, crew, and directors.

Show dates for the Kutztown Area School District’s production of “Once Upon a Mattress” are Friday, Nov. 17 and Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 2:30 p.m.

Brady Tucker is a senior at Kutztown Area High School and is an intern at The Kutztown Area Patriot.