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A Musical 'Mattress' At Madeira

Claire Withycombe, a student at Yorktown High School, reviews the Madeira School's "Once Upon a Matress."

Have you ever felt pressured by your parents to conform to their wishes?

The humorous and charming musical "Once Upon a Mattress," performed by the Madeira School last weekend, exhibits this problem to the extreme, as Prince Dauntless, son of the plotting Queen Aggravain and mute King Sextimus, struggles to find his way to the altar with the girl of his dreams, the plucky Princess Winnifred.

"Once Upon a Mattress" debuted off-Broadway in 1959, starring Carol Burnett as Princess Winnifred, and went on to Broadway that year, later touring the United States and London. The musical has been adapted for television three times and was revived on Broadway in 1996, starring Sarah Jessica Parker.

Margaret Berkowitz's Winnifred brought energy and spunk to the Madeira production, opening with the show-stopping "Shy." Olivia May's Prince Dauntless charmed the audience and brought honesty to the role of the stumbling, fumbling mama's boy. One particular highlight was the small but feisty King Sextimus, played brilliantly by Elizabeth Gambal. Gambal's consistent energy and focus on character was evident throughout the show, making it a pleasure to watch.

In addition, Lady Larken and Sir Harry, played by Meghan McKinney and Wesley Brandt, respectively, exemplified the humorous side of the trials and tribulations of young love, especially in numbers such as "In a Little While" and "Yesterday I Loved You." Putting on a show with male and female characters performed almost entirely by female actors must be difficult, but the performers completed their tasks with exceptional skill.

Technically, the production ran smoothly, although the actors had some trouble involving mishaps of set pieces. Sound and lights, although straightforward, were pulled off relatively seamlessly.

Some scenes felt a bit rushed, and, at times, the ensemble seemed a little scattered. This could be due in part to the zany nature of "Once Upon a Mattress," but it could have been improved.

Overall, the demands of the musical were well executed by the cast and crew. The performers displayed an admirable energy and genuine joy, characteristics any production should be proud of. Kudos to the Madeira School -- it earns 20 mattresses.

By Washington Post Editors  |  February 26, 2009; 11:32 AM ET
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