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Northeast News

Group revives 'Once Upon a Mattress' in Temple Terrace


Published:   |   Updated: July 16, 2013 at 11:54 AM

TEMPLE TERRACE - The award-winning musical comedy "Once Upon a Mattress" ran on Broadway in 1959 and its revival followed in 1996.

The Masque Theatre is soon to experience a similar scenario.

Masque's original production of "Once Upon a Mattress" was in 2004 at the Omar K. Lightfoot Center at 10901 N. 56th St. It was the group's final play prior to establishing a home in the Masque Community Theatre building within what is now the city's downtown redevelopment area south of Bullard Parkway and 56th Street.

When the structure was later transformed into a post office, the theater group temporarily moved to a smaller venue in the same complex.

But it has since returned to the Lightfoot Center and will present its own revival of "Once Upon a Mattress" - with music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer and book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller and Barer - at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday from Aug. 2-18.

The play centers on the kingdom of King Sextimus, played by 16-year-old Tampa Catholic student Brystin Ivey, and Queen Aggravain, portrayed by Maisha Esdaile, 17, a Florida School of the Arts student; King High attendee Kelsey Oberbroeckling, 16, and Lindsay Wright, 16, a student at Blake High.

The king is mute due to a witch's curse, and as a result, the queen is head of the royal household. She orders that no one in the kingdom will wed until Prince Dauntless, played by Jesuit High student Christian Pena, 15, marries a royal-blooded princess. So far 11 ladies have flunked the test.

Not-so-regal candidate Princess Winnifred - portrayed by 13-year-old Terrace Community Middle student Eve Bennett, Harrison School of the Arts attendee Emma Stimpson, 16, and 17-year-old Blake High student Madison Lopinto - unexpectedly arrives on the scene with Sir Harry, played by Jesuit High student Max Yodzis, 17.

Sir Harry is desperate to find Prince Dauntless a wife because he wants to marry girlfriend Lady Larkin, who is pregnant with his child.

To his delight, Prince Dauntless falls madly in love with "Fred."

But the question remains: Can the princess pass the queen's test?

The show's director Ruth Kegel, a longtime figure at Masque, hopes many in the community and beyond will turn out to see how the play unfolds.

Tickets are $14 for adults; $12 for seniors 60 and older, students and military personnel; and $10 for children younger than 12. Tickets are available at www.masquetheatre.net or by calling (813) 983-1710. They may also be purchased at the door.

Ivey, who's been in three Masque summer productions, said playing the role of the mute king is both enjoyable and challenging.

"You have to rely on your emotions and that makes you have to do better," he said.

Oberbroeckling's role as one of three cast as the queen, she said, perfectly fits her personality.

"I like the power and I like to talk in real life so we're a good match," said the Temple Terrace resident who is in her sixth Masque performance.

Bennett thinks the idea of casting three people as the princess is a good one.

"We practice together and critique one another," she said. "Madi and Emma are great to work with."

Robinson High student Kyle Johnson, 14, who portrays the role of the Wizard, has performed in 13 Masque Theatre productions.

He is the only actor in the 47-member cast who was in Masque's 2004 show of the same name.

What draws the Westchase resident back to the Temple Terrace theater time after time? "It's Ruth," Johnson said, "She's a great director."

Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.com.

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