Once Upon A Mattress
Shawnee Mission Northwest High School Theatre
SMNW's production of Once Upon a Mattress is pure entertainment. Based on the fairy tale of The Princess and the Pea, the show requires energy, quick pacing, and a lovable princess, SMNW's production accomplishes all three. Unlike Carol Burnett's movie version which put me to sleep, this production ended too soon.
Princess Winifred, played by Hailey Esch, carries the show. She wins your heart beginning with her joyful opening belter, "Shy". From there, she continues to grow on you with her earthiness and complete lovability. Her character contrasts strikingly with the cold and ruthless queen, played with total consistency by Gwen Devonshire. An extremely "wordy" role, Devonshire's clarity ensures that every word is understood. Her solo, "Sensitivity", is so pleasant you almost forget how annoying the queen's ranting has become. The king, played by Connor Haley, wins you over in his first scene with his complete silence. Speaking only one word the entire show耀ort of揺e communicates with such energy and clarity, that within short order he no longer requires a translator. (Though his translators, the Minstrel, played Mike Allen, and Jester, played by Tanner Rose are delightful as they certainly add to the mayhem! Both have lovely voices and refrain from over-playing their parts.)
There is not a weak player in the cast. The chorus, too, seems well-integrated in the show, maintaining the energy established by the leads, and appearing to be fully engaged and consistent in their characters.
As always, SMNW was blessed with a large, talented orchestra. I only wished that audience members had the courtesy to end their conversations when the lights dimmed and the overture began擁t was an overture worth hearing!
Technically the show was outstanding. Aside from a couple missed lighting cues on opening night, the show appeared to be technically flawless. The sound was particularly admirable with voices perfectly balanced with each other and the orchestra. The set was simple and impressive and did not interfere with the flow of the show as has sometimes been the case with SMNW productions.
The show was a lot of fun. The little girls sitting behind me giggled from start to finish. Me too; I wasn't ready for it to end. The only real negative part of the experience came after the show when we couldn't get out of the auditorium because the doors were blocked by cast and crew greeting their fans. After such a quick-paced show performed with such professionalism, it was disappointing to feel trapped at the end. It was a sad reminder that I was at a high school rather than a professional production.
read the review at KC Stage