Fairy tale hits the funny bone with 'Mattress'

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We all grew up with that saccharine fairy tale of the frail, beautiful princess who won her prince when she detected a pea hidden under a stack of 20 mattresses.

The Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company is about to fracture that little story, and you'll be plenty glad they did.

WNMTC will present Mary Rodgers' comedy, "Once Upon a Mattress," at the Carson City Community Center through Sunday.

In the Broadway musical that propelled Carol Burnett to stardom, Princess Winnifred is a hardy, likable, weight-lifting gal who swims the moat to win her mama's-boy beau, Prince Dauntless.

Stephanie Dixon plays the princess, and said, "Winnifred is a quirky character who is a joy to portray."

Christopher Willson, who plays Prince Dauntless the Dark, said, "This is a very fun and silly show, and I'm having a blast."

The storyline involves a domineering, possessive queen who is determined to disqualify all contenders for her son, while refusing to let anyone in the kingdom marry until Dauntless finds a bride.

Dawn Murphy, the queen, said, "I've never had so much fun playing a bitch."

When the knights and ladies learn about the queen's scheme with the mattresses and the pea, they devise a scheme of their own to be certain the princess wins her man.

Carried on a wave of humorous and melodic songs written by Rodgers, daughter of famed Broadway lyricist Richard Rodgers, the show is a rollicking spin on the classic tales of royal courtship.

Dixon is best known to local audiences as Mabel in "Pajama Game." Willson played the Tin Man in "The Wizard of Oz." Hannah Freeman and Leoney Berg play Lady Larken and Sir Harry. Murphy and Dave Tillit face off as the queen and king, entertained by Patrick Hardy (the Wizard) and Marcus Quiroga (the Jester.) Jim DeZerga is the traveling minstrel who narrates the show.

"Playing the mute king has been extremely challenging," said Tillit. "But it's been great fun. I just want to break into song along with the rest of the cast."

Director Stephanie Arrigotti had lots of headaches, going back to preparing to flee with all the notes and plans when the Waterfall fire threatened the college.

"This is a remarkably funny script. It is surprising that so few people are acquainted with it," said Arrigotti. "Anyone who comes will be delightfully surprised."

Some 40 singers and dancers complete the cast, accompanied by a live orchestra. Arrigotti also produces the show, Gina Kaskie-Davis is the choreographer, and Bob Grant conducts the orchestra.

Show times are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Admission is $14 general, $12 for students and seniors, and $10 for age 17 and younger. Block discounts are available for groups of 20 or more. Tickets are at Comma Coffee, 312 South Carson St.; Maytan Music, 777 S. Center St., Reno; and the Western Nevada Community College Performing Arts Office on the Carson City campus.

They may also be purchased by calling 445-4249.

If You Go

What: "Once Upon a Mattress" by Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Where: Carson City Community Center

Cost: $14 general, $12 for students and seniors, $10 for age 17 and younger. Block discounts available for groups of 20 or more.

Contact: 445-4249

Contact reporter Sam Bauman at sbauman@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1236.


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