The Wessex Wire

The Student News Site of West Essex Regional High School

The Wessex Wire

The Wessex Wire

Don’t Sleep on “Once Upon A Mattress”

West Essex students have been working since November to take on a medieval style musical filled with lots of laughs.
Photos courtesy of Stephen Miller
West Essex students have been working since November to take on a medieval style musical filled with lots of laughs.

Once upon a time, many moons ago, the Masquers of West Essex presented the charming fairytale  “Once Upon A Mattress” on March 14-16.

This musical’s take on the fairytale “The Princess and the Pea” by Hans Christian Anderson, showcases the classic story with a twist. In the fairytale, a candidate for royal marriage is tested by placing a single pea under a pile of mattresses. If she feels the pea and fails to fall asleep, she is truly a princess. 

The Minstrel (sophomore Emma Casper) starts the musical by telling the audience that his fairytale is not entirely true. Instead, “Once Upon a Mattress” will share the unfiltered story of what really happened.  

The story begins in a faraway kingdom long ago, where Queen Aggravain (sophomore Catherine Golioto) has decreed no couples could marry until her son, Prince Dauntless (freshman Isaac Simon), found a bride that could pass the impossible tests given by the Queen. 

The controlling Queen has managed to sabotage all twelve princesses that came along by creating a series of impossible tests with the Wizard (senior Delaney Piccoli) to see if they are truly princesses.

Sir Harry  (freshman Aaron Klaff) was anxious for the prince to find a bride so he too could get married to Lady Larken (junior Luciana Musano). He searches far and wide for a princess who can pass the test. The roller coaster of a love story between Sir Harry and Lady Larken was an unexpected plot delivered through complementing voices and enchanting duets. 

  Princess Winnifred (junior Lexi Ciardella), known as Fred, is the outspoken and charming princess of the swamp who makes an entrance by swimming the moat. She is not your stereotypical princess, ironically describing herself as “Shy” in a loud, brassy musical number. This song was the best in the show because of the amazing singing and catchy song lyrics. With the help of Sir Harry, King Sextimus the Mute (junior Har-El Shrem) and the Jester (junior Noel Marootian), Fred proves she is the princess the kingdom has been waiting for. 

 The King, cursed years ago to be silent, must use hand gestures to communicate with the rest of the cast. Shrem’s comedic conversations and singing through hand signals and facial expressions were hilarious and impressive, especially during the catchy song “The Minstrel, The Jester, and I.” 

The dancing, singing and props from the knights and ladies of the ensemble cast brought the musical together with their constant conversations and reactions throughout the scenes. The “Spanish Panic” was especially memorable, with a song and upbeat dance moves that got progressively faster, until the entire cast (excluding Fred and the Queen) dropped to the floor. The songs were possible due to the 20-member orchestra which consisted of both professional and student band and orchestra players, directed by orchestra teacher Caitlin Schroyer.  

The crew brought the show together behind the scenes. Director Michael Galioto, Student Director Har-El Shrem, Choreographer Melissa Mooney, Student Choreographer Kaitlyn Degraw, the Student Stage Managers Tia Sidel and Sam Bonsignore and Student Creative Managers worked with the crew to produce a successful spring musical. Their colorful costumes set the scene bringing the audience back to regal times, as though they are transported into a fairytale. The set was especially impressive, being two levels that the actors could climb and stand on, making the audience feel like they were actually in a castle. Of course, the true mattress atop the pea was Princess Winnifred’s bed, which was 20 mattresses high. 

Whether it be a consolation chicken, a singing, squawking nightingale or an energetic musical number, this twisted fairytale left no time for sleeping.

Behind the Byline
Amanda Ippolito, Arts & Culture Editor
Amanda Ippolito is an Arts and Culture Editor for the Wessex Wire. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her cousins and friends. In her free time she is either listening to music, playing guitar or watching TV. Her favorite singers are Taylor Swift, Zach Bryan, and Luke Combs.
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