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“Once Upon a Mattress” at LaFargeville

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LAFARGEVILLE — The buzz you hear in the hallways of the LaFargeville Central School is the chatter about the comeback of school musicals to this district.

The buzz is also heard around town. If it takes students and a school auditorium to stage a musical, it takes a community to make it sing.

“A lot of parents have come to help us, even some staff members’ spouses and board members have come and volunteered,” said Brianna L. Draper, French teacher and co-director of “Once Upon a Mattress,” which will be staged here Friday and Saturday. “It’s been a community effort getting it ready.”

The high school’s drama club has produced plays for the past two decades. But last year, it took a different direction when it staged the musical “Bye, Bye Birdie.”

It’s been a refreshing change for students like 11th grader Joshua M. Baughn, who plays Sir Harry.

“It’s definitely a different vibe,” he said of talk around school.

“It was very new for the community,” Miss Draper said before a rehearsal last week in the district’s auditorium, which opened less than two years ago. “We had a bigger audience than we ever had in a drama production. But we’re hoping this year we get even more people to come out and see us.”

“People were very excited about it last year,” said co-director and district choral music director Shelly R. Peck. “It had been a long time since we had done anything big. With the new auditorium, everybody was anxious to come.”

With growing community support, the stage sets have become a bit more elaborate this year in comparison to last year’s single stage drop curtain. Before the music started at last week’s rehearsal, Miss Draper was instructing students on how to carefully turn the eight panels on the set so they would show different scenes.

“This is the first year we’ve tried anything with big moving sets,” Miss Draper said.

An 8-foot bed was still under construction and not on the set. Costumes were also being worked on. Miss Draper’s mother, Alice M. Draper, is the musical’s “master seamstress.”

”Once Upon A Mattress” is based upon the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea.” Its music is by Mary Rodgers (daughter of Richard Rodgers), with book by Jay Thompson, Marshall Barer and Dean Fuller, and lyrics by Marshall Barer.

It was first staged in 1959 at the off-Broadway Phoenix Theatre. It moved to Broadway the same year, where it ran until 1960. The show had a Broadway revival from 1996 to 1997.

The licensing agency for the musical, Rodgers & Hammerstein, says the show contains “walloping surprises” for those who think they know the story of “The Princess and the Pea,” such as “Princess Winnifred actually swam the moat to reach Prince Dauntless the Drab, Lady Larken’s love for Sir Harry provided a rather compelling reason that she reach the bridal altar post haste, and it wasn’t the pea at all that caused the princess a sleepless night.”

“It’s just a funny show,” said 10th grader Allison V. Hoover, who plays Lady Larken. “It’s got a lot of humor with a lot of fun songs.”

Ninth-grader Rachel E. Wilson plays Princess Winnifred. Last year, she played Rosie in “Bye, Bye Birdie.” She’s happy to see the more elaborate productions at the school.

“I think that bringing the arts into a school setting is very important,” she said. “It takes students out of their comfort zone and into something new.”

Mrs. Peck was impressed with such insight and enthusiasm.

“You’re hired!” she told Rachel. “We’re putting you on a billboard.”

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The cast of “Once Upon a Mattress” at LaFargeville Central School:

Katie Beeles as the minstrel; Kacy Appleton as the wizard; Allison Hoover as Lady Larken; Joshua Baughn as Sir Harry; Kaitlyn Farrell as Queen Agravain; Gavin Davidson as Prince Dauntless; Ken Sharp as King Sextimus; Callie Rapant as the jester; Rachel Wilson as Princess Winnifred; Nicole Valin as Princess No. 12; Michael Wells as Sir Studley; Skylar Perry as Sir Luce; Lauren Beeles as Lady Rowena; Jackie LaRose as Lady Merrill, Taylor Briggs as Lady Lucille and Hayley Valin as Lady Mabelle.

The ensemble: Krysti Brow, Alexis Gosier, Mandy Green and Bethany Stanfrod.

The crew: Michaeka Ross, Emily Martin, Melissa Russell and Merreck McMurphy.

The details
WHAT: “Once Upon a Mattress” staged by the drama club at LaFargeville Central School
WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the school auditorium, 20414 Sunrise Ave.
COST: $3 for students and $5 for adults at the door
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