Tri-State Theater

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Once Upon a Mattress"

I got to see Once Upon a Mattress last night, and am I glad I did!

First of all, it's a very funny show, with lots of great songs, outstanding costumes and an impressive set. (You can see a photo gallery from the show right here.) But best of all, the cast is packed with terrific performers!

The beauty of First Stage is that it draws on some of the top talent around the tri-state area and gives them a stage to show off those abilities. And this show is loaded with gifted performers - an all-star cast!

I've known Chloe Donahoe since she was in First Stage's High School Musical, and this is (as far as I know) her first star turn - but it won't be the last. She's terrific as Winifred, the rough-edged and good-hearted princess who's trying to win the hand of the Prince. Her comic timing is perfect, and what an amazing voice! When she sings "Shy" she brings the house down! (That's her in the red in the photo above.)

Another great performance is provided by Kristin Caviani as Queen Aggravain - she's loud, obnoxious and tremendously funny - she steals almost every scene she's in! (That's her in the photo on the right.)

This is not to take away from the guys: Daniel King as Sir Harry is an amazing singer - he has the kind of commanding voice you'd expect from someone much older - and his comic skills are sharp, too. Jack McGee provides a lot of comic relief as the still-tied-to-the-apron-strings prince, and he plays his part with the skill of a stage veteran (and he's a fine singer, too). (He's in the photo above with Kristin.) Samuel Collins doesn't get to say much as the mute King Sextimus, but he gets lots of laughs with his Harpo Marx stylings.

There are many outstanding supporting performances here, too, including Sarah Bryan as the Minstrel - she sings beautifully and wears that beard proudly; Catherine Dennison as the Jester, who provides a wonderful performance as she gets to sing, dance and move the plot along cleverly; Madeline Southall is terrific as the desperate Lady Larkin, who has a special reason for wanting the Prince to get hitched.

I could go on and on, but let's just say that the rest of the cast is equally terrific, whether it's singing and dancing in the big group numbers or taking part in the comic bits that knit the show together.

It's wonderful to see this kind of big musical production locally, with an excellent 11-piece orchestra, no less! You just can't beat live music!

Kudos to director Amy Browning and the rest of her team for an outstanding job on this show!

You have one more chance to catch it this weekend - it runs tonight at 8 p.m. at the old Huntington High School at 900 8th Street. There is no Sunday show this weekend, but there will be additional performances next Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 21 at 2:30 p.m.

Don't miss this one!

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