Classic fairy tale with a twist at Theatre Macon

lshirley@macon.comJanuary 10, 2014 

“Once Upon a Mattress,” opening Saturday at Theatre Macon, is a classic fairy tale with a little twist and a lot of humor.

The Youth Actors Company musical tells the story of “The Princess and the Pea,” following Prince Dauntless the Drab’s search for a wife.

“He’s a mama’s boy. He’s looking for love, just trying to be happy, and I think that is something we all can relate to,” said Kellen Gordon, the 18-year-old Howard High School senior playing the prince in his first Theatre Macon show.

The prince’s mother, Queen Aggravain, however, makes his quest for a bride difficult.

“Basically, the queen is an overbearing mother who declares that no one in the kingdom can get married until her son does,” director Jonathan Willis said. “She then creates tests for the princesses that are completely unpassable, but the people of the castle take it upon themselves to make sure that one passes.”

That one turns out to be Princess Winnifred, played by 17-year-old Madeline Dannenberg, a senior at Perry High School in her 11th performance at Theatre Macon.

“I really like her. She’s someone who doesn’t care about others’ opinions of her, she’s kind of loud, and she’s very independent. I’ve been singing her song ‘Shy’ since I was little,” Dannenberg said.

Winnifred presents one of the twists in the story, as she is not a stereotypical princess. Her castle is in the swampland, and she swims the moat and climbs the castle wall to make her entrance. Though she may not appear as most fairy tale princesses do, she longs to be like them.

“My favorite scene is when she sings ‘Happily Ever After,’ about princesses like Cinderella and Snow White and how she wants to live like them,” Dannenberg said.

Willis said the set for the show is minimal.

“It’s kind of suggestive of a castle, using platforms and stairs. We stuck with one color scheme for the set and costumes, in the peacock realm. The costumes, by Shelley Kuhen, are just gorgeous,” Willis said. “Because it’s a fairy tale, we didn’t stick specifically to medieval times. Everything is kind of suggested.”

The show is completely family-friendly and very lighthearted, with “not one bit of drama,” the director said, but audiences still appreciate the classic story.

“It’s interesting to me that people like the twists associated with it, too. It’s not your typical fairy tale. It has this quirky, weird, strange female character that adults and kids gravitate to.”

“Once Upon a Mattress”

When: 8 p.m. Jan. 11, 17-18; 2:30 p.m. Jan. 12 and 19

Where: Theatre Macon, 438 Cherry St.

Cost: $18 for adults; $12 for children and students

Information: 478-746-9485

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