50 Years Later, ORR Back on Mattress

            When Old Rochester Regional High School Musical Director Mike Barnicle recommended the musical “Once Upon a Mattress” to ORRHS Theater Director Maxx Domingos, the young director was not so sure it would be a good fit.

            Barnicle talked Domingos into it and, as fate would have it, the tight-knit cast — or one “giant friend group,” according to one actor — will chronicle this tale for the first time in 50 years at ORR. The story features a prince whose overbearing mom won’t let anyone marry unless her son marries first. This rule sets up a scandal when Sir Harry impregnates Lady Larken before the prince can find his princess.

            Domingos said she ironically learned that, 50 years ago this year, ORR theater students also performed this same musical.

            “It’s a weird, historical fate blip,” Domingos said.

            Now, both Domingos and her cast are excited to bring this offbeat comedy to the public Thursday, March 30, to Sunday, April 2. All shows start at 7:00 pm except for the 2:00 pm Sunday performance.

            “This show is so funny. It’s a physical comedy. It’s quick-witted,” Domingos said. “Its name is deceiving. … It’s not a fairy tale. You get a lot more than you think you’re going to get.”

            Domingos’ cast appears to be just as enthusiastic.

            “It’s a very fun, funny show. It’s good for kids and for adults,” says sophomore Calder Eaton.

            This will be the fourth show for Domingos and third show for Assistant Director Sarah Whinnem, as they close out their second year with the ORRHS Drama Club. Principal cast members include Emily Wyman as Princess Winnifred the Woebegone, Thomas Berry as Prince Dauntless the Drab, Kathleen Dunn as Queen Aggravain, Eaton as Sir Harry and Chloe Bean as Lady Larken, according to a written release.

            These cast members have been acting since their middle school days or earlier and all have connected well with their respective characters, including Wyman, an ORR sophomore.

            “She’s a little bit crazy and excited a lot of the time, but at the same time she just wants to do her best,” Wyman said of her character, Princess Winnifred the Woebegone.

            Eaton, who plays Sir Harry, did not audition for the part, feeling that he would not be cast as the character. In the end, he got the call for Harry. He is now loving every minute of it.

            “Everybody is really nice. We are all very alike so it is really fun to work with everyone — one giant friend group is doing this one thing,” Eaton said.

            Senior Thomas Berry plays the prince. This will be Berry’s last performance for ORR. He has been involved with acting since he played one of the seven dwarfs in a junior high school play.

            “I’ve been part of the club all four years. I have done every show we could do,” Berry said. “I think it’s going to hit me when the curtain closes (that this will be the last ORR show). I will work to make it the best show possible.”

            Berry says he loves this part.

            “He is kind of a childish part. He has been under the queen’s wing his entire life. He doesn’t know anything beyond the castle walls,” Berry said.

            Bean, a junior, is also excited to play Lady Larken, whose pregnancy provides comedic twists.

            “It is a big plot line within the story of the play. She and Harry have to figure out what they’re going to do. No one can get married until the prince gets married,” Bean said.

            Cast members also gave props to Sakurako Huynh-Aoyama, who is directing the choreography and playing a jester.

            According to a written release, tickets are for sale at the Marion General Store, Isabelle’s in Mattapoisett, Friends’ Marketplace in Rochester, at the door and online for a small service fee through Eventbrite: orrspringmusical2023.eventbrite.com. Students and Senior Citizens $12, General Admission $15.

            Also, according to the release, the show is most appropriate for students in grades 5 and above, as well as for adults.

By Jeffrey D. Wagner

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