ERHS to present spring musical ‘Once Upon a Mattress’

Royal couples of “Once Upon a Mattress” are played by Emma Crane and Andrew Elmquist (front), Abby Howse and James Bounds (left), and Lucas Lanier and Hannah Gandrud (right).
Royal couples of “Once Upon a Mattress” are played by Emma Crane and Andrew Elmquist (front), Abby Howse and James Bounds (left), and Lucas Lanier and Hannah Gandrud (right). (Photo by Bruce Strand)


by Bruce Strand, Arts Editor

The tale of a princess whose lovely skin is so tender that she can’t sleep because there’s a pea under her stack of mattresses – now that’s a yarn you should be able to have some fun with.

That’s what Elk River High School Theatre is counting on with their presentation of the two-act musical “Once Upon a Mattress” the next two weekends.

“It’s a witty take on a well-known fair tale,” said Emma Crane, who plays the princess, when asked how she’d recommend “Mattress” as a good night out. “It’s humorous and keeps showing you things that are unexpected.”

The cast also includes Andrew Elmquist as Prince Dauntless, who must be married before any of his peers can wed; Abby Howse as Lady Larkin, who’s secretly hitched to the knight Sir Harry (James Bounds), and they’re expecting, so they need the prince to find a bride quick; Hannah Gandrud as Queen Aggravain and Lucas Lanier as King Sextimus, who’s mute due to a curse (it’s a fairy tale so somebody has to be cursed); the always funny Andrew Bronshteyn and Brady Murphy as Jester and Wizard, respectively; and Grayson Ziegler as a minstrel who narrates the whole mess.

Director Michelle Brooks said the merriment includes a dance called “Spanish Panic” with the music all instrumental “so the kids get a chance to shine with their dancing,” the mute king participating in song-and-dance numbers, and jaunty songs like “Opening for a Princess,” “Man to Man Talk” and “Happily Ever After.” She added that interpretive sign language will be provided.

Brooks said she chose Crane for Princess Winnefred because the character is “down to earth, innocent, silly and fun, and that’s Emma. Even though she is very driven in real life, she still has whimsical side. And she is an amazing singer.”

Crane, already in her junior year an accomplished vocalist, Nordic skier, student, Peace Essay winner and statewide Excel Award recipient, caps it off with her first lead role in a play, although she’s a stage veteran. She’s enjoying the new challenges.

“I do lot more physical stuff than other shows I’ve been in,” Crane said. “I get to climb up a bed, and fall backwards off a wall and lift things, and run around a lot.”

Assisting Brooks are Terry Beaudry (music), Lauren Koehler (choreography) and Dan Wold (lights). The cast has over 30 kids.

With music by Mary Rodgers and lyrics by Marshall Barer, “Once Upon a Mattress” was adapted from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea” and opened in 1959.


Once Upon a Mattress’
at Zabee Theatre, ERHS
Friday, April 25, 7 p.m.
Sat., April 26, 2 & 7 p.m.
Friday, May 2, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 3, 7 p.m.

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