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NOT EVEN RAIN DAMPENS `ONCE UPON A MATTRESS’

SHARE NOT EVEN RAIN DAMPENS `ONCE UPON A MATTRESS’

It's summer, and time once again to gather kids and blankets and head to the outdoor shows in the SCERA Shell. Just hope for better weather than it got opening night.

Just the same, the cast of "Once Upon a Mattress" - a comical, musical version of the tale of "The Princess and the Pea" - showed both professionalism and undaunted spirit as the rains descended about 30 minutes into the show. No one missed a beat, not to mention a note or a dance step, and the show went on as the audience seated on the hillside took cover under blankets and umbrellas.The cast and live orchestra had no such advantage, but nevertheless continued through 15 minutes of downpour. Costumes were soaking wet, instruments were in danger of being ruined, and cast members were dancing in puddles on the stage when director Jerry Elison called a halt to the show.

With spirit like this, the production should be even better in dry conditions. And what the audience saw of it Friday night was pretty good. A nice set reminiscent of a castle, backed by meadows and another castle in the distance, filled the expansive stage. Then the cast of 50 filled the space with movement and color, using the entire stage to advantage and charming the audience with witty songs and cleverly choreographed dances.

Among individuals, special note is made of the performance of Sydney Riggs as the egotistical, domineering Queen Aggravain, who sets up impossible tests for princesses who may become the bride of Prince Dauntless the Dull (Shawn Lynn). Andrea Loper makes a good Winnifred, the true princess whose forward manner and disdain for formality turn the kingdom upside down.

Bart Schaerrer as King Septimus gives a stereotyped portrayal of the woman-chaser who only catches heck from his queen. Dawn Dorr Parr is a lovely, dignified Lady Larkin, secretly married to a knightly Sir Harry (Cory Sackett). Their vocal duets are standouts in this show.

By now, there should be improvements in the sound that was sometimes muddled Friday. (At least, there should be no competition from drums or loud speakers for the dog show going on in the park that night.)

Bouquets go to Elison, musical director Gaye Beeson and the (mostly) Orem High School students in the live orchestra, choreographer Mary Linda Thomas, scenic artists directed by Dean Richan and, most of all, the wonderfully enthusiastic cast that wasn't going to let a little (or a lot of) rain stop the show.