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Theater

Royals in 'Once Upon a Mattress' just plain fun

| Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, 12:03 a.m.
The cast of Stage Right Performing Arts & Education’s Young Artists Summer Theater production “Once Upon a Mattress,” made up a students from Fox Chapel Area High School, Westinghouse Arts Academy and Springdale Area High School.
The cast of Stage Right Performing Arts & Education’s Young Artists Summer Theater production “Once Upon a Mattress,” made up a students from Fox Chapel Area High School, Westinghouse Arts Academy and Springdale Area High School.

Stage Right Performing Arts Education is staging a medieval musical as its Young Artists Summer Theater production – and members of the royal family will be there.

Not exactly the Meghan-and-Harry kind of royals, but those of the fairytale variety, according to Bill Ivins, artistic director at Stage Right who provides stage direction for “Once Upon a Mattress” with Jamie McDonald, assistant director/stage manager, and music direction by Jenna Hayes and Ben Bliss.

Ivins says the show being performed at Aspinwall Riverfront Park Aug. 9-18 has a lot going on.

Just plain fun

“The dialogue is funny, the characters are lovable (even when they’re not!), songs range from lullabies to show-stoppers and, of course, it provides a clever retelling of the classic fairytale story of ‘The Princess and the Pea.’”

Ivins says they chose the musical because it is just plain fun.

“The cast will be wearing amazing costumes and getting to sing and dance to a wide variety of great music,” he says. “There are opportunities for young actors to explore some real characters, too. Although this show could have been done with a dozen or so more cast members, we’ve stripped it down to the essentials. Some of the players will actually be doubling as other characters as well.”

The musical features 14 cast members and a half-dozen young people working behind the scenes, all of whom are students who will either be attending high school in September or are rising eighth-graders.

The cast consists of Quentin Cook, Alyssa Fabian, Anna Ferris, Ellen Gray, Sasha Hainan, Natalka Harris, Abigail Kusluch, Jack Lorence, Sadie Lorence, Xavier Perry, Olivia Pistella and Duncan Regan, students at Fox Chapel Area; Kinsley Beachler, a student at Westinghouse Arts Academy; and Travis Michaels, who attends Springdale Area High School.

Meet the Royals

In addition to six performances of “Mattress,” there will be two special evenings: at 7 p.m. Aug. 11, a pre-show cabaret event will feature young performers in addition to those in the musical who will be singing music from “royalty-themed” shows. Food will be provided by Walnut Grill and proceeds from concessions will benefit Aspinwall Riverfront Park, Ivins says.

On Aug. 18, an hour before the final performance, those attending are invited to “Meet the Royals” and greet the king, queen, princes and princesses in full costume.

“Children are encouraged to wear their own costumes for an on-stage costume parade, the perfect way to prepare for the evening’s performance,” the director says.

Musicians include Ben Bliss, piano; Deanna Edwards, flute/piccolo; Matt Pinker, trumpet; Bill Rossetti, bass; and Stephen Smietana, percussion.

Fall production

Stage Right recently finalized arrangements for its fall show, Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award-winning play “God of Carnage,” to be staged Oct. 18-21 at The Oaks Theater, Oakmont. Ivins says details and audition announcements will be posted soon at stagerightpgh.org.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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