Young Actors’ Theatre’s ‘Once Upon A Mattress’ brings an old fairy tale into a musical delight

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A whimsical spinoff of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Princess and the Pea,” Young Actors’ Theatre showed once again its commitment to the art of musical theater. “Once Upon A Mattress” is a tale for all ages and the troupe delivered this nearly six decade Broadway musical with precision on opening night May 5. It was nothing short of pure delight and with an outstanding cast and powerful musicals, this adds to YAT’s impressive repertoire of successfully bringing top-notch entertainment for all ages.

A whimsical spinoff of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Princess and the Pea,” Young Actors’ Theatre showed once again its commitment to the art of musical theater. “Once Upon A Mattress” is a tale for all ages and the troupe delivered this nearly six decade Broadway musical with precision on opening night May 5. It was nothing short of pure delight and with an outstanding cast and powerful musicals, this adds to YAT’s impressive repertoire of successfully bringing top-notch entertainment for all ages.

With a basic premise of an overbearing Queen mother who believes that there is no fit wife throughout the kingdom fit for her son, her faithful Sir Harry (Harrison Shoaf) goes beyond the boundaries of the kingdom to find a suitable wife for the young Prince Dauntless (Kevin Davison). As no one in the kingdom may marry before the young prince, Sir Harry is on a self-motivated mission as he is deeply in love with Lady Larkin (Sophia Garner), and they are unexpectedly expecting. But what the Queen did not expect, was the daring Princess Winnifred (Mary Rose Vadeboncoeur), the princess of the swamps, that would challenge the Queen with her every move, with a little bit of help from all in the kingdom.

Vadeboncoeur’s powerful voice soared through the air powerfully, and at 14 showed a maturity and easiness that makes her a natural performer. As well as she stood on her own, her duets with Davison complemented his dorky character that came across with perfection in word and song.

His mother, Queen Aggravain (Astrid Pett) played the overbearing Queen convincingly, so much so that you just could not help but not like her. But her comedic touch and beautiful voice made “Spanish Panic” fun to watch, and “Sensitivity” moved you to understand the nature of the headstrong Queen. By her side, King Sextimus the Silent (David Limon), performed excellently. Not only was he funny, but also incorporating his silence into the musical numbers, his actions spoke louder than words and gave these songs a particular element of intrigue. With three couples in on the main, the combination of actors as couples could not have been paired better.

Shoaf and Gardner had some wonderful moments together with “In a Little While” and “Yesterday I Loved You.” And we must not forget the Mistral (Bobby Ward) who seamlessly went from storyteller to active role. This was a great choice in casting as his voice seemed to fit the bill and he displayed a lot of charm in performing.

Overall, this was an excellent and strong performance by all, with supporting cast adding to the dance, song and comedy in harmonious counterpart.

“Once Upon A Mattress” is playing through May 15, so there is still time to take the entire family for a fun night (or matinee) with no regrets. A non-profit, Young Actors’ Theatre is ahead of the game when it comes to edifying young actors in pursuit of their dreams, and this play is another example of how well this program works. In the works are “Beauty and the Beast” playing in the first part of July and “Willy Wonka” in June. Also in June, YAT’s Summer Break Camps begin. For more information about current and upcoming performances, or the summer camp visit www.yatsandiego.org.

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