by Bruce Strand, arts editor
You’re gonna laugh. That’s what we can predict will happen if you take in “Once Upon a Mattress,” Elk River’s spring musical that abounds with physical humor and some delightful individual performances along with splashy, colorful costuming and sets and big production numbers.
The play has had two runs so far, Friday night and Saturday afternoon, and will have one more this weekend, tonight (Saturday) at 7 p.m., then resume next Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.
Hannah Gandrud as the haughty Queen Aggravain is a hoot with the machine-gun speech cadence of her speech in her self-serving monologues as she tries to keep Prince Dauntless for himself, rejecting any and all princess candidates with impossible “tests” administered by her cagey, loyal wizard (Brady Murphy), while her timid but eager late-teens son (Andrew Elmquist) is dying to get hitched, along with everyone else in the royal court whose love lives are on hold until the prince finds a bride.
Dauntless is especially enamored when Emma Crane as Princess Winnefred shows up: a blunt, sarcastic, wisecracking tomboy of a princess from a nearby swampy province who can swim the moat around the castle, hoist 500 pounds, and both dance and drink the prince under the table, all of which delights the boy and horrifies his mom. It doesn’t hurt that Crane’s an excellent singer.
There’s also Lucas Laniel as the mute King Sextimus (his tongue stilled by a witch’s curse) who nonetheless communicates hilariously with pantomimes and charades when he’s not chasing a little girlfriend around the palace.
We could tell you more, but instead will just recommend, go see this play; it’s a fun night out.