Julius Wolf, Andrew Woods and Kiara Reichstadt practice their lines in preparation for the spring musical.  PHOTO BY GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Julius Wolf, Andrew Woods and Kiara Reichstadt practice their lines in preparation for the spring musical. PHOTO BY GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
They're sleeping on the vegetables and waiting for the mouse to devour the hawk.

Such distress and peril, all center stage.

"It's always been a favorite of mine, with a plot featuring an evil queen, a mute king, a prince in distress and a kingdom in peril," said Kingsland's spring musical director Tim Chappell, speaking of "Once Upon a Mattress," the play that Kingsland thespians are presenting Friday, April 26, through Sunday, April 28, an adaptation of the classic "Princess and the Pea."

According to a summary of the play, "Once Upon a Mattress" is the story of a medieval kingdom ruled by the devious Queen Aggravain and the mute King Sextimus the Silent, "who suffers from a curse that can only be reversed when the 'mouse devours the hawk.'" The minstrel of the realm sings about the 'Princess and the Pea' - the princess in the story wasn't the first young lady to be tested to see if she was worthy of marrying Prince Dauntless the Drab...she was one of 13 girls unfairly tested. But "throughout the land, no one may wed 'till Dauntless shares his wedding bed."

The cast includes Delia Dahl as Queen Aggravain, Andrew Woods as King Sextimus, Noah Schmidt as Prince Dauntless, Jordan Pokorney as Sir Harry, Corrine Lee as Lady Larken, Shelby Larson as Winnifred, Julius Wolf as the minstrel, Colt Hamersma as the wizard, Kiara Reichstadt as the jester, Nik Brundige as Sir Studley, Cory Kaster as Sir Luce, Tyler Kappers as the first and third knights, Dylan Affeldt as the second knight, Paige Webb as Princess #12, Josie Bellrichard as Rowena, Lariah Fox as Merill and the second lady, Elisabella Raum as Lady Mabell, Kylie Blattner as the first lady, Chelsey Schwab as Lucille and the third lady, Yuliya Kuzmicheva as Lady H, and Katlyn Mensink as a kitchen wench and a lady. The stage crew is comprised of Josie Hinze as stage manager, Khristian Pike as lights manager, and Kathryn Oakland handling set design. Kingsland band director Josh Hogberg will direct the play's music, accompanied by Suz Eberle on the piano, bringing the music to the musical as the cast performs selections such as "Many Moons Ago," "On a Stormy Night," "Normandy," "Spanish Panic," "Happily Ever After," and "Very Soft Shoes."

Chappell related that the play suits the actors and actresses well and that they suit the play well, too, as they were chosen for their roles in conjunction with their theatrical gifts. And, he added, "Since it's a fairytale not based on anything most people know, we can take liberties and tweak some of the play to fit better."

Rehearsals began in late February, as the director "had some difficulty with obtaining scripts and making sure the cast size could be met." Also, regularly landing Monday snowstorms delayed the show's rehearsal start, but Chappell is used to making do with limited rehearsal time, space and budgets. The director noted that preparing the set for the show was "time-consuming," but costuming the cast was made easier, thanks to a helping hand from Brave Community Theatre in Spring Valley. "They have a lot of costumes and props and helped us out a lot."

He appreciates reprising his role as director because it allows him opportunities to "open up new ideas to the young actors that there are many fun and wonderful plays out there that are not your most popular...I love theater, directing, creating and sharing that with all." Chappell feels that the show will promote Kingsland's drama department, which he would like to rebuild as an educational program. "Well, not only Kingsland, but many other districts, too. Theater is one of the oldest forms of communication. Theater, if need be, can be done anywhere with any budget. It instills so much in a student. You, the actor, will read the play, look into the psyche of that character and others, do an imitation of a person, take direction from a director or coach, memorize lines, learn movement on stage, learn about the stage itself and terms in theater, work with others in a team setting, and it goes on and on."

Chappell promised audiences a delightful theater experience. "This play is fun, has a large cast, lots of singing and puts morals and family matters into light. The show is a wonderful fairytale filled with humor that all ages might enjoy. There are some 'tongue in cheek' sorts of humor as well that adults will catch onto. It's a wonderful, fun musical. What's not to love?"

The cast of "Once Upon a Mattress" will pile the pallets and peas high at the Kingsland Middle School's old gymnasium stage in Wykoff from Friday, April 26, through Sunday, April 28. Curtains open at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for students. Children under 5 are admitted free.

For more information, log onto the Kingsland website at www.kingsland.k12.mn.us