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Once upon a time …

By Staff | Apr 3, 2008

Dillon Bennet, playing Princess Winnifred, the Woebegone, the princess who feels a pea through 20 mattresses, has the popular vote as the bride to be of Prince Dauntless, played by Michael Wilbur. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

About 150 elementary students had a big treat Wednesday afternoon when they saw a dress rehearsal of Once Upon a Mattress at the Iowa Lakes Community College gymnasium in Estherville.

The musical adaptation of the classic fairy tale The Princess and the Pea will be held 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Adult tickets are $12 and student tickets for grades 12 and under are $6. Advance tickets are available by calling 362-7972.

Produced by Carol Ayres and directed by Ayres and Brett Fuelberth and featuring talent from Iowa Lakes Community College as well as the community at large, Once Upon a Mattress is a wonderfully humorous spin on a fairy tale that will have children of all ages laughing.

Jeannene Larson does a phenomenal job as Queen Aggravain who supposedly is looking for the perfect wife for her son, Prince Dauntless, played by Michael Wilbur. Her voice, remarkably similar to the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz, makes us root for her son the hapless Prince Dauntless and particularly for Princess Winnifred, the Woebegon, played by Dillon Bennett.

Prince Dauntless is particularly well named. Totally subsumed by his mother the control freak, he finally breaks the shackles of her matriarchal control at the end of the musical and leaves her quite permanently speechless.

Princess Winnifred has her own version of narcolepsy, not being able to sleep all night even after counting more than 37,000 sheep. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

King Sextimus, the Silent, played by Dan Yonker, does finally find his voice at the end, curiously, at the same time that Queen Aggravain loses hers. Through most of the play, though, he is voiceless and afflicted with a severe case of satyriasis which keeps the ladies in waiting not waiting in any one place for very long.

Dillon Bennett brings a fairytale naivete to her role as the princess who swims through a moat then runs a gauntlet of tests by Queen Aggravain before suffering immensely after trying to sleep on 20 mattresses with a pea beneath the bottom one. Even after counting more than 37,000 sheep, she still can’t manage to fall asleep.

Other principals in the musical include Jedd Sherman, playing a minstrel. He’s joined by F. Joseph Wilson, playing the wizard; John Wallace, playing the jester; Kyle Koenecke, as Sir Harry; and Madison Hargett as Lady Larken.