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May 02, 2013 7:57 am

Fairy tale takes stage at PHS

Written by Dante Geoffrey

Prince Dauntless (senior Josiah Hogan) pouts at center stage after yet another princess (Emma Hanlin, stage right of Hogan) is deemed unqualified to be his wife in ‘Once Upon a Mattress,’ Powell High School’s latest musical production. The play can be seen Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. in the school’s auditorium. Prince Dauntless (senior Josiah Hogan) pouts at center stage after yet another princess (Emma Hanlin, stage right of Hogan) is deemed unqualified to be his wife in ‘Once Upon a Mattress,’ Powell High School’s latest musical production. The play can be seen Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. in the school’s auditorium. Tribune photo by Dante Geoffrey

Powell High School will debut its latest theater production, “Once Upon a Mattress” Friday at 7 p.m. in its auditorium.

The adaptation of the fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea” is a return to musical comedies after a brief departure into heavier fare. The high school’s previous show, “The Diviners,” was a more traditional character-driven drama.

Male lead Josiah Hogan said he expects this show to be more accessible than “Diviners” and better received by the community.

“It’s more family friendly, it’s light-hearted, it’s song and dance,” Hogan said. “Everybody likes a good musical, right?”

Theater director Robert Hunt said “Once Upon a Mattress” puts a Shrek-like spin on the classic story, making it a fun show for children and adults.

Hunt said more than 30 actors plus behind-the-scenes crew have been hard at work for almost two months building sets and rehearsing.

Senior Sarah Wurzel assumes the lead role as Princess Winnifred, a character Wurzel described as a less-than ladylike “swamp princess” whose singing voice leaves something to be desired.

“It’s hard, because it’s not what you think of when you think of a princess,” Wurzel said. “(She sings) a little bit out of control sometimes, or really harsh.”

Wurzel, herself a talented singer, said it was a challenge to sing poorly on purpose. She developed a couple techniques to fight what comes naturally to her.

“I just sing through my nose and kind of scream-sing,” she said.

Wurzel said it is fun to play a brash character that is mostly against-type, but she was also able to find some common ground with Winnifred.

“She (Winnifred) doesn’t care too much about what people think of her, so I kind of hope that’s similar,” Wurzel said.

Wurzel is playing opposite Prince Dauntless as portrayed by Hogan, who said he is enjoying the transition from working on a serious drama to a family-friendly musical.

“It’s a different sort of fun, it’s a different sort of challenge, really,” Hogan said of performing in musicals. “If you mess up a line, it’s a lot less noticeable than missing a step in a dance or hitting a note wrong.”

The fear of an on-stage blunder is shared by senior Emily LaPlante, who is playing the antagonist Queen Agravain.

“The first night of a play is always really, really terrifying, because you never know what’s going to happen,” LaPlante said. “And just because everyone is nervous, mistakes are more likely to happen.”

Hogan and LaPlante said the key to avoiding an embarrassing gaffe is to remain invested in the moment.

“The best way to make sure you don’t mess up is to just practice as much as you can,” Hogan said. “You’re more likely to mess up if you don’t put yourself out there all the way. Whatever you do, just own it.”

LaPlante said she welcomed the chance to play a character everyone is supposed to dislike.

“It’s just kind of fun to be that evil character that thinks she’s so good even though she isn’t,” LaPlante said.

The source material offers the actors more room for interpretation.

“It allows for a little bit more imagination in the characters,” LaPlante said. “I like to pretend that everyone thinks that I’m a good person even though they all know that I am not.”

Hogan said that, while the characters don’t offer as much to chew on as those in more dramatic pieces, he enjoys knowing the production is more likely to be a crowd-pleaser.

“It’s satisfying in the sense you know it will entertain more, even though you don’t get to achieve the depth in your character that you might like,” he said.

The cast: Emma Hanlin as Lady Larkin, Sean Myers as Sir Harry, Hunter Myrick as Jester, Tim Poppert as King Sextamus, Sam Weinstein as Minstrel, Brooke Thomas as Lady Rowena, Brandi Voss as Lady Merrill, Alexa Smith as Lady Lucille; Amber Munjar as Princess 12, Garrett Musso as Wizard, Chelsea Bates as Kitchen Wench, Marina Pomeroy as Lady Emily, Rachel Wurzel as Nightengale; the Knights are portrayed by Miles Rumbolz, Quinn Lamoureux, Rachel Bright and Bianca Larsen; the chorus is Alex Flom, Celine Hall, Haley Sanders, Madison McDonald, Ashley Drew and Lauren Hopkins.

A second show will be performed Saturday at 7 p.m.

Tickets cost $4 for students and $6 for non-students. Tickets are available for purchase at the Powell High School office or at the door.

“Once Upon a Mattress” was written by Jay Thompson, Marshall Barer and Dean Fuller and the music was written by Mary Rodgers.

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