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Coming attractions: Musical twist on fairy tale

April 5, 2013

Wapakoneta High School students rehearse a scene from “Once Upon a Mattress,” this year’s musical to be presented next weekend at the Performing Arts Center. Staff photo/Karen Kantner

More than 40 students are preparing to present the comic take of the fairy tale, “The Princess and the Pea,” to audiences beginning next week at Wapakoneta High School.

This year’ s musical, “Once Upon a Mattress,” is a little more light-hearted than performances of past years. The musical comedy written by Mary Rodgers first became a broadway hit around 1960. Wapakoneta High School art students and parent volunteers bring the scenes to life again on the Performing Arts Center stage.

“It’s really, really funny and has a lot of female and male roles,” Director Tim Smith said of why he chose the production for his fist musical at the school.

Assisting him as co-Director this year is Nikki Barger, a special education teacher at the high school with a degree in theater.

“They have done a lot of serious shows here in the past and I thought this was a good change of pace,” Smith said of the musical, which he began working on almost immediately after he was hired. “It’s really fun and written in such a way that it is humorful for every body. From 4-year-olds to grandparents, it is something the whole community can come and enjoy and not worry about it. It is completely hysterical.”

Smith shared the cast of high school freshman through seniors is doing fabulous in rehearsals.

“It’s always a process that is never really finished until opening night,” Smith said.

“Not the average princess,” Karli Ayers, a sophomore, describes her role as the quirky Princess Winnifred.

Junior Austin Drake, cast as Sir Harry, serves as the head knight tasked with the job of trying to find a princess.

Cullen Martell, a junior, plays the deaf king’s right-hand man, the jester, trying to help communicate with him what is happening all around him.

Those interested in acting in the play tried out in December. Rehearsals began in January. Since then they have rehearsed almost every day after school for approximately three hours.

Karli and Cullen have acted elsewhere, but they have never been part of a Wapakoneta musical before, while Austin has taken to the Performing Arts Center stage before as part of the annual high school performance.

Senior Antonio Anderson, who plays a knight, hasn’t acted at all in the past, but is enjoying the experience as it goes along.

Involved in other music activities at the high school, Antonio said with the encouragement of friends who were involved he decided to give it a try.

Karli said it is the whole experience that makes being part of the musical so much fun.

“You get to hang out with the people, take on a new different character and see what you can do with it,” Karli said.

The students plan to use the musical experience as they continue on after high school. Antonio, who plans to study digital media, is hoping his own band will take off, while Cullen plans to continue doing theater in some capacity. Austin plans to major in music education and music theater, while Karli is anticipating a minor in the field.

In addition to the theater and musical skills the students are gaining, Karli said the musical is also a lesson in time management and memorization. As well as public speaking, said Cullen, who used to get nervous being on stage.

He explained the jittery time waiting to go on stage and how once you get out there, everything just happens the way it should.

Karli described it as butterflies.

For Austin, he is excited to get out there and show off his talents.

As for this year’s show, Austin agreed with his director that it is definitely a fun show.

“Bring the kids down and watch,” Austin said encouraging parents to bring their children. “It is a family show.”

One that just might make the audience question what they have heard before about fairy tales, Karli added.

Proceeds from the musical go back to the Wapakoneta Choral Music Society and are used as needed for all of the high school’s choirs.

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