From November 2 to November 18, The Young Artists Ensemble performed the musical “Once Upon A Mattress” in Thousand Oaks. I saw the performance on the 16th, and I was thoroughly entertained the entire time. It was funny and happy at the right times, and serious when it needed to be, which is what made it fun to watch.
The musical started with a fantasy setting; an interesting kingdom that was ruled by a quiet king, an obnoxious queen, and their son, a charming prince named Prince Dauntless. Right from the start, it is obvious that this family is not quite an average one. In fact, their dynamic is flawed. I felt sorry for the prince and king because they both had to put up with the antics of the queen. She became unreasonably frustrated over small, simple things. The queen repeatedly insists that Dauntless needs a princess to marry, but it can’t just be any princess. All of the princesses that want to marry Dauntless have to pass a special but challenging test written by the queen.
Eventually, Princess Winnifred shows up to take the test. She and Dauntless fall for each other quickly, but the queen doesn’t like Winnifred because she is not a “real” princess. To test if she is really a princess, the queen places a single pea under 20 mattresses. Winnifred passes (thank goodness, she honestly deserved it for dealing with the queen’s antics) and later ends up with Dauntless.
Winnifred was definitely one of my favorite characters because she was determined, humble, and actually worked for what she wanted.
The choreography in the musical was very wonderful. I could tell that the actors and actresses worked tirelessly to make sure that everything turned out splendidly.
Actress Glory Curda, who played the character Lady Merrill, said, “I try to participate in [performance] as much as possible, and loved getting to be a part of the cast of my most recent show ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Truly, ‘Once Upon a Mattress’ simply reminded me why I love getting to do shows so much.”
Photos by Stephanie Kiang.