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Longtime director returns to helm 'Once Upon a Mattress' at Penn-Trafford High

| Wednesday, March 30, 2016, 9:00 p.m.
Alyssa Curran (left), performing as 'Lady Larken', and Patrick Harris, as 'King Sextimus the Silent', rehearse for the Penn-Trafford High School Drama Guild production of 'Once Upon a Mattress' on Saturday, March 19, 2016, at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Alyssa Curran (left), performing as 'Lady Larken', and Patrick Harris, as 'King Sextimus the Silent', rehearse for the Penn-Trafford High School Drama Guild production of 'Once Upon a Mattress' on Saturday, March 19, 2016, at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City.
Rayna Klingensmith (center) rehearses in the role of 'Princess Winnifred' for the Penn-Trafford High School Drama Guild production of 'Once Upon a Mattress' on Saturday, March 19, 2016, at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Rayna Klingensmith (center) rehearses in the role of 'Princess Winnifred' for the Penn-Trafford High School Drama Guild production of 'Once Upon a Mattress' on Saturday, March 19, 2016, at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City.
Actors David Carver (left) as the 'Jester', and Cameron Clausner as the 'Minstrel', rehearse for the Penn-Trafford High School Drama Guild production of 'Once Upon a Mattress' on Saturday, March 19, 2016, at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Actors David Carver (left) as the 'Jester', and Cameron Clausner as the 'Minstrel', rehearse for the Penn-Trafford High School Drama Guild production of 'Once Upon a Mattress' on Saturday, March 19, 2016, at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City.
Colton Pikovsky (left), appearing as the 'Wizard', and Aria Markijohn, appearing as 'Queen Aggravain', rehearse for the Penn-Trafford High School Drama Guild production of 'Once Upon a Mattress' on Saturday, March 19, 2016, at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Colton Pikovsky (left), appearing as the 'Wizard', and Aria Markijohn, appearing as 'Queen Aggravain', rehearse for the Penn-Trafford High School Drama Guild production of 'Once Upon a Mattress' on Saturday, March 19, 2016, at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City.
Rayna Klingensmith (foreground left) rehearses in the role of 'Princess Winnifred' for the Penn-Trafford High School Drama Guild production of 'Once Upon a Mattress' on Saturday, March 19, 2016, at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Rayna Klingensmith (foreground left) rehearses in the role of 'Princess Winnifred' for the Penn-Trafford High School Drama Guild production of 'Once Upon a Mattress' on Saturday, March 19, 2016, at Penn-Trafford High School in Harrison City.

A familiar face will be calling the shots when students take the stage this weekend at Penn-Trafford High School.

The high school drama guild will perform “Once Upon a Mattress” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and April 8 and 9 and at 3 p.m. Sunday. The show is a musical version of the fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea.”

Tom Bekavac returns as director after taking a year off.

“It's new, but it's also old again,” Bekavac said. “There's a lot of new faces to me. But after doing this for 25 years, a lot of it is still fresh.”

One the biggest excitements for Bekavac is the location for this year's show. This will be the first musical performed in the renovated Penn-Trafford High School Performing Arts Center. The center was part of the $32 million renovation project at the high school that will be completed this summer.

“It's state-of-the-art,” Bekavac said. “Everything is so professional.”

Aria Markijohn, a senior in her sixth show at Penn-Trafford, said she was excited to have Bekavac directing.

“It's nice being back with him,” Markijohn said.

Markijohn will play Queen Aggravain, one of two roles that were double-cast for the show. That means audiences can experience a different show depending on who fills her role and that of Princess Winnifred. Katelynn Powell, a junior who shares the role with Markijohn, said they have been working to put their own unique spins on the character.

“We're two different characters,” Powell said.

Patrick Harris, a senior who plays King Sextimus the Silent, said working with both actresses keeps the rest of the cast sharp.

“How one person reacts can be different from how another person reacts,” Harris said. “You always have to be on your game.”

Senior Rayna Klingensmith said she has worked hard to prepare for her first lead role as Princess Winnifred.

“I definitely have to make sure I'm in shape so I have enough stamina to do everything,” she said.

Andre Guest waited until his senior year to join his first musical, where he plays Sir Studley. He is enjoying the camaraderie of the cast and crew.

“It's been wonderful,” he said. “It's a bunch of great people. It feels like a family.”

Tickets for the show cost $10 for adults and $8 for senior citizens and students. Information on ordering is available at pthsdramaguild.com.

The performing arts center is at 3381 Route 130 in Penn Township.

Tom McGee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2867 or tmcgee@tribweb.com.

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