The Kilauea Drama and Entertainment Network has brought fairy tales to the stage the last couple of summers with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” and Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”
KDEN will draw from that well again, this time in the winter, with “Once Upon a Mattress,” a musical comedy adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Princess and the Pea.”
The curtain opens tonight at Kilauea Theater at Kilauea Military Camp inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
“Once Upon A Mattress” features music by Mary Rodgers — the daughter of Richard Rodgers — lyrics by Marshall Barer, who also wrote the lyrics to the iconic “Mighty Mouse” theme, and book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller and Barer. The show marked the Broadway debut of comedy legend Carol Burnett, who originated the role of Princess Winnifred, and then reprised the role on television.
“I love this show,” said producer/director Suzi Bond. “I remember watching it when I was a little kid with Carol Burnett on TV. And when she sang (Bond sings) ‘Im shy; I’m incredibly shy,’ I thought it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen.”
As usual, Bond has a cast of local theater veterans, including Joy Sever as Winnifred.
“She gets an incredible chance to stand out and shine,” Bond said. “She’s been in a lot of choruses and never had a really great role — and this is a great fit for her.”
Stephen Bond plays the hapless Prince Dauntless, Stephanie Becher is the overbearing Queen Aggravain, and Andy Colberg — who provided comic relief as King Herod in the Palace Theater production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” — is again a monarch, the mute King Sextimus. The lovers, Sir Harry and Lady Larken, are portrayed by Byron Karr and Kait Wilson, the latter fresh off a recent star turn as Inga in the Palace’s “Young Frankenstein.”
Chris Tomich keeps the plot moving as The Minstrel and Douglas Wayman plays The Wizard. Wayman also choreographed the major musical numbers and designed several of the costumes, including his own.
The chorus also has familiar names and faces, including mother and daughter Tanya Aynessazian and Emerson Aynessazian, plus Julia Cellini, Nathan Ducasse, Kathy Frankovic, Roch Jones, Billy Shackley, Britten Traughber, and Elizabeth Young.
The 13-piece orchestra is conducted by Armando Mendoza, whom Bond described as “incredibly wonderful.” There’s a family connection there, as well, with Reid Tsuji on trombone, Jenifer Becker Tsuji on flute, and their son, Logan Tsuji, on trumpet.
Vocal director is Pedro Ka‘awaloa, who also plays The Jester.
“He’s planning to leave in May,” Bond said. “It’s one more chance to work with Pedro, my last. When I was doing the program and writing the director’s notes, I was sitting here and sobbing. I have a lot of love for that young man.”
Bond added Ka‘awaloa is helping prepare Tomich to take over music director chores for KDEN’s summer musical production of Gilbert &Sullivan’s “Ruddigore.”
Set design is by Jonathan Sudler, who returns to KDEN and the Big Island after a lengthy absence.
“The set is all white,” Bond said. “Everything’s white — the walls, everything. We were standing there discussing the set and he said, ‘What if I was to do it all in white?’ I said, ‘I dunno. Go for it.’ It’s really kind of a stunning feature.”
Bond described “Once Upon a Mattress” as a family friendly show, “although there are some things that will probably go over the heads of the majority of the little ones.”
“If you loved ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Cinderella,’ you’ll love this,” she said.
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