photo from today’s Hampton Union
A girl named Fred
Students excel in WHS musical
By Amy Kane
A genuine princess is exceedingly rare. A girl named Fred proved she was one in Winnacunnet High School’s presentation of the Broadway musical “Once Upon a Mattress” this past weekend.
Junior Annie Munch played Princess Winnifred, moat-swimming princess from the marshlands looking for a mate.
In addition to her aquatic talents, Princess Fred could lift weights, wrestle, guzzle ale and dance the Spanish Panic. She was the perfect match for mama’s boy Prince Dauntless the Drab, played by Kenon Fachon.
With the help of her new friends in the castle, Fred passed the pea-under-the-mattress “sensitivity test” devised by Queen Aggravain, played by Anna Kane.
The show was lighthearted and funny, with strong vocals, and the performances garnered standing ovations both nights. On the way to happily ever after, there were hijinks by a cast of medieval fairy-tale characters.
King Sextimus, played by Samir Choudhry, was cursed with muteness and pantomimed to communicate. His wedding-eve birds-and-bees talk to his clueless son inspired lots of laughter.
Though they had only two voices among them, Sextimus, the Jester (Ben Bagley) and Minstrel (Anthony Grant) made a merry trio with the king.
The Wizard, played by Craig Rubin, served the Queen, but was vain enough about his show biz days to give away some crucial secrets about the test to the Minstrel and Jester. Rubin also played the nightingale brought in by the Queen to sing Princess Fred to sleep atop 20 soft mattresses and one pea – and piles of lumpy junk and jousting equipment tucked in there by Fred’s friends to keep her awake.
Sir Harry (James Brown) and Lady Larken (Jessica Noone), who sang the show’s most romantic duets, were especially relieved the prince would finally marry, so they could get married, too. In a “moment of weakness” during a Whitsunday joust, Lady Larken had conceived a future little knight or lady.
The singing-and-dancing ensemble of lords and ladies-in-waiting included Elise Fachon, Sajin Murphy, Trina Carroll, Audrey MacAlpine, Gabrielle Richter, Gabbie Burns, Mary Jacobs, Grace Walker, Thomas Alston, Joe Falabella, Adam Knight, Connor Ellison, Josh Demeule, Arnold Wong and RJ Cook.
The 18-piece orchestra, directed by Tony Cyrus, was also given a standing ovation, as was the 21-member technical crew of carpenters, painters and shifters. The crew was led by stage managers Allix Rashid and Corinne DiZoglio, lighting director Shane Collins, props mistress Leslie Frazee, Nathan Chase on sound, and Troy Collins on lights – all Winnacunnet students. Teacher John Croteau was a technical director.
The players gave flowers, gifts and thank yous to choreographer Amanda Zeller and director Christina Rutland.
“She was a taskmaster, but it was so worth it,” Kane told the audience after Saturday’s curtain call.
A special thanks – and a king’s crown – was given to vocal coach and technical director Richard Ray. The Winnacunnet choral teacher will retire after this school year. Ray has been involved in every one of the school’s 28 Broadway shows. He asked alumni of those shows who were in the audience to stand up.
“That’s what it’s all about, creating experiences for kids they can’t get any other way,” Ray said. “I had that in high school and I wanted to pass that along to these guys.”
More photos of the musical, by Rich Pettigrew: Winnacunnet High School presents: Once Upon a Mattress