As a magnet program of the Los Angeles Unified School District, The Hamilton Academy of Music was created to promote integration and diversity through the immersion, practice and delivery of the academic and artistic expression, committed to working collaboratively with faculty staff, parents and students to achieve the highest levels of academic and artistic accomplishments. And they have certainly reached a grand artistic accomplishment with their production of "Once Upon a Mattress" continuing through February 23 in the Pattiz Concert Hall, 2955 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90034
"Once Upon a Mattress" with music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer and book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller and Marshall Barer, is a hilarious musical adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "The Princess and the Pea." Queen Aggravain has ruled that none may marry until her son Prince Dauntless marries. However, she has managed to sabotage every princess that has tried to win the Prince's heart. Sir Harry and Lady Larken are determined to marry, so Sir Harry goes off to the swamps and brings back Princess Winnifred ("Fred" to her friends). The Queen is horrified and immediately begins to scheme against her, drafting the Wizard to assist with her unfair testing of each princess who has come to court to vie for the Prince. But Winnifred, with some help from Sir Harry, the King, The Minstrel, and the Jester, isn't going to be quite so easy to get rid of as she is determined to marry the Prince whatever test the Queen devises for her. Will she succeed and get to live happily ever after? The answer lies below a bed of 20 mattresses.
"Once Upon a Mattress" marked the 1959 Broadway debut of later stage and TV legend Carol Burnett, who originated the role of Princess Winnifred. In the performance I attended, the role was played by spunky Hannah-Michelle Provisor who charmingly displayed sass, vulnerability, strength of character, and the great comedic timing needed to carry her songs "Shy" and "Happily Ever After" as well as the physical comedy needed for "Song of Love." Accomplished in dance and musical harmony, Provisor is one to watch as a future Broadway musical comedy star.
Other standouts included Giovanni Da Silva as the velvet-voiced Minstrel, Preston D, Parker as the Wizard with an attitude, Danielle Soury as the vindictive Queen, Jonathan Anderson as King Sextimus the Silent demonstrated great pantomime skill, Evan Dye as Prince Dauntless the Drab was very charming in his innocence, Noah Mayer whose Jester was a joy to watch, and Charlotte Robinson as the warbling Nightingale failing to put the Princess to sleep with her song. Andrew Weitz as Sir Harry needs to up his manliness a bit to match the lovely feminine wiles of Gabi Nail as Lady Larken.
I must commend the overall multi-level set design by John Paul Luckenbach which allowed actors many playing areas in and around the castle. However, some of the set pieces restricted views of the actors on the upper level of the set which I found distracting.
Kim Overton's detailed costumes lent a wonderful springtime air to the show. Kudos to director/choreographer Chelsea Field who used the large stage area for well-choreographed ensemble numbers throughout the show. It was nice to see so many young actors looking happy while working so hard onstage during the complicated numbers, but they should remember to turn off their mikes when they leave the stage so the audience does not hear their backstage conversations.
And finally, kudos to
the student orchestra who allowed the music to shine throughout the production - especially percussionist Emon Montgomery who handled multiple instruments with great aplomb.
"Once Upon a Mattress" at the Hamilton Academy of Music, 2955 S. Robertson Blvd.in Los Angeles, CA 90034. Performances through February 23 - Tickets range from $10-$20