Peas, princes & patriot players
April 22, 2014
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Award-winning Liberty High School theater program presents ‘Once Upon a Mattress’
There are overbearing mothers, and then there is “Once Upon a Mattress’” Queen Aggravain, alone in an altogether different stratosphere of dysfunction.
“Like her name suggests, she’s aggressive,” said Liberty High School senior Hailey Gumm, the one tasked with portraying her in the Patriot Players’ spring musical. “She definitely is a little bit crazy, but I think the crazy people are the fun ones. They are the meat of the show.”
The award-winning Liberty drama program will tackle the comic re-telling of “The Princess and the Pea” in what is just the third show in its remodeled Landback Auditorium.
The story follows Queen Aggravain’s outlandish attempts to keep her son, Prince Dauntless, from marrying, despite the fact that he is well and ready, according to his portrayer, junior Lorrin Hunt.
It becomes a particular problem for others in the kingdom when the queen declares that no one else can get married until her son finds the perfect princess.
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It’s an obstacle that lovers Sir Harry, played by senior Jeremy Dodd, and Lady Larken, junior Jennifer Wood, are more than eager to overcome.
“My whole motive is to be with the woman I love, so I have to find a woman to love this one,” Dodd said while pointing toward Hunt.
Princess Winnifred might be that “one,” but only if she can outlast the queen’s demanding tests.
The light-hearted story is played over a backdrop of catchy music and fast-paced dance numbers. Liberty’s rendition of the musical promises to employ the appropriate mixture of humor, storytelling and singing, Hunt said.
“It’s humor that can be grasped by young and old,” he said. “So, if you bring your whole family, everyone will laugh.”
When the Patriot Players perform, the community takes notice. The Liberty theater program is arguably among the best in the state, with its consistent appearances at the 5th Avenue Theatre Awards, the state’s high-school version of the Tony Awards.
Last year’s spring musical, “The Wizard of Oz,” was nominated for nine awards. The production earned the top honor in the Outstanding Scenic Design category.
The drama students understand that legacy, and are proud of it, but they don’t just do it for the awards, Gumm said.
“We’re focused on bettering ourselves, which in turn makes us a good program,” she said. “The awards aren’t something we focus on.”
The program’s success, though, is one of the reasons the new Landback Auditorium exists, Hunt said. The Patriot Players are still getting used to the relatively new theater, but it has increased the capacity of what they are able to do in their productions.
“Administrators have told us the reasons why the Performing Arts Center is one of the first things you see, and because it’s so nice, is because the theater program does so well,” Hunt said. “It is a lot of pressure, but we handle it.”