RIVERSIDE, CA - Fun, frills and frolicking is what you can expect watching Once Upon A Mattress at Riverside Performing Arts High School at Ramona. The music was written by Mary Rodgers, daughter of musical theater great Richard Rodgers who wrote Oklahoma, South Pacific, The King and I, and many others. The show is a zany comedy based on the very familiar fairy tale, The Princess and the Pea. When the show first premiered on Broadway, Carol Burnett had her debut as the "loud-mouthed" Princess Winnifred.

The Riverside Performing Arts High School, under the direction of Patricia Scarborough, has produced a fine version of this very popular musical. Starring as the Princess Winnifred, is Allie Harris, who was fantastically funny. She is a natural on stage with excellent comedic timing. Another delightful performance is that of Haylee Qualls, who plays the obnoxious, crazed hypochondriac Queen Aggravain. Playing Prince Dauntless is Marcus Moore, who is quite funny and the perfect foil for Winnifred's antics. Another fine performance is that of Bill Bradley who plays the very silent King Sextimus. It is not easy to keep the audience's interest when you have no lines, but Mr. Bradley certainly does. Playing the young couple in love (Sir Harry and Lady Larken) are Adam Bicksler and Kristen Pickering. They both have lovely, lyrical voices that bring a certain beauty and charm to their songs.

Playing the Jester is Matthew Thompson-Moore who is quite a natural on stage. The Minstrel, who narrates the story, is Steven Pierce who has a wonderful voice and a commanding stage presence. Chanel Parker plays the Wizard and really knows how to cast a spell with her trickery and slight of hand. 

           

    

      

    

     

       

The Ladies in Waiting really know how to make the most of their time on stage, particularly during "The Swamps of Home" and Quiet. They are: Candace Bottello, Anna Tran, Ayanna Dozier, Rebecca Vineyard, Kelsey Upward and Kathleen Grosky. The Nightingale of Samarkand (Anna Leynes) sings the mysteriously haunting lullaby in the second act quite nicely. Supporting their royal highness is Sir Studley (Luis Carmona) and Sir Luce (Tim Picard). Another charming character is Princess #12 who, though she tries so hard, fails the princess test. Played by Melissa Kirk, she makes the most of her brief moment on stage. 

Although the show has several leading roles, it is really an ensemble piece. Every person in the cast has added a great deal of energy and talent to the production which is quite obvious in the big numbers: "An Opening for a Princess," "Song of Love" and especially "Quiet" which, although it has no singing, is a very complex, rhythmic clapping and stomping number that is performed extremely well. Making up the ensemble are Alex Gomez, Daniel Sanchez, Sarah Scholl, Claire Alfred, Alyssa Winder, Amanda Meyers, Chrisilla Adrien, Alyssa Papavero, Chris Martinez, Gabriella Rincon, Mary Gonzalez, Mara Gallegos, Matthew Villasenor, Jonathan Smeragliulio, Amber Briscoe, Bridgit Grosky, Nick Lussier, Chelsey Shernamen, Dominic Marinaro, Lois McGary and Jackie Burns.

Leading the orchestra is Paul Salyers who does a fabulous job of keeping this large cast of actors and musicians together. Robin Speer's choreography is very inventive and appropriate to the style of the show. Rounding out the crew is Dustin Arduser (technical director), Rick Woodbury (vocal director) and Sarah Jane Risner as the stage manager. 

For a an evening of comedy and musical entertainment, I highly recommend seeing Once Upon A Mattress and Ramona Auditorium in Riverside. The show plays Friday, May 5 (7pm) and Saturday, May 6 (2pm and 7pm). Visit the website for more information: www.riversideperformingarts.com

Check out the review of their 2004 production of Hello Dolly: www.maestro.ws/arts/reviews/hellodolly.html 

 


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