‘Once Upon A Mattress’: A quirky show that charms audiences like no other

'Once Upon A Mattress' is a musical comedy first performed in 1959. (Courtesy of JSU Drama)'Once Upon A Mattress' is a musical comedy first performed in 1959. (Courtesy of JSU Drama)

Anna Marker, Correspondent 

On Friday, February 21, 2020, JSU drama opened their first production of their spring 2020 season with ‘Once Upon a Mattress’ at the Ernest Stone Performing Arts Center.

Once Upon A Mattress is an award-winning musical with music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer, and book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Marshall Barer. JSU’s Production was directed by Dr. Ellen Peck and ran for four nights, including a Monday night performance on February 24th which closed out the show.

Once Upon A Mattress is a comedy musical that is a unique retelling of Princess and the Pea. Princess Winifred swims the moat and directly to Prince Dauntless the Drab’s heart. 

It is a story of a fussy queen and a fairytale kingdom like no other. Complete with elaborate costumes, hilarious dance numbers, and talented singers this JSU production entertained the Jacksonville community in a variety of ways. Winnifred (played by Kelsey Trussell) stole the hearts of Prince Dauntless (Kevin Jannot) and audiences alike. Trussell enchanted the audience with musical numbers such as “Shy” and “Happily Ever After”. The costumes and set were filled with color and beautiful artwork just as entertaining as the show itself.

Christian Watts, who played Once Upon A Mattress’s beloved character The Minstrel, was just one of many talented actors in JSU’s production. He enjoyed performing as The Minstrel in this production. 

Watts said, “working with the cast” was his favorite part in this process and continued by saying “everyone is talented in their own way and it is so amazing to watch how we put this show together for an audience”. 

Dr. Peck and the cast began rehearsals right when the semester started. On January 8th the Once Upon A Mattress cast had their first rehearsal. The cast list for this show was up last semester. Dr. Peck, her cast, her crew, and the JSU Drama Department worked tirelessly to put this production on the Carlton Ward stage. 

“We all put in so much work,” said Watts. “Everyone’s part is so important, especially the tech and costume people. Without them, there is no ‘magical’ show.” 

The show ended its one weekend run on Monday the 24th. For the cast and crew this was a bittersweet moment. Watts said that he was “honestly very sad that the show [was] over”, and that “it was a lot of fun working with this talented and hardworking cast”. He went on to say that he had fun telling this fairytale to audiences. Overall, audiences interacted with the production positively. This quirky show charms audiences like no other and has won several Tony Awards for its Broadway run and Broadway revival.

JSU’s drama department performs a variety of shows every semester. Coming up are there performances The Diary of Anne Frank which will open on April 17th and the Student Showcase on April 4th and 5th. More information on the JSU drama department can be found at http://www.jsu.edu/drama/.

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