Theatre in the Grove goes 'steampunk'
Theatre in the Grove will be premiering a special spin on a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale in the form of "Once Upon A Mattress," a Broadway classic. The production takes a familiar tale of a royal courtship and comeuppance and spins it into a musical filled with comedy.
The play is loosely based on "The Princess and The Pea." A royal family whose matriarch, Queen Aggravain (Gillian Wildfire), has set a harsh decree that allows no one in the kingdom to marry before her son, Prince Dauntless (Matthew Hampshire). She keeps the kingdom single by foiling every marital candidate the prince attempts to wed.
However, the noble Sir Harry (Tanner Morton) and Lady Larken (Erin Riha) have an interest in marrying as soon as possible, so they set out to put an end to the queen's cruelty.
Sir Harry finds the perfect partner for Dauntless — Winnifred (Joanna Galvan), a slightly unpolished woman from the "wrong side of the swamp." With the help of Sir Harry, the Minstrel (Nathan Wildfire) and the Jester (Lauren Donovan), Winnifred sets out to outwit the queen and win her true love's heart.
Luis Ventura, the director for the play, has made a unique decision in setting the story in a post-apocalyptic steampunk world, an alternative take on the 19th-century British Victorian era.
"Being my first time directing at Theatre in the Grove, I didn't get to choose what show I was going to direct. So when I was offered 'Once Upon A Mattress,' I knew I had to put my own twist on it because I don't really like fairy tale shows," he said. "That's how I came up with the idea of doing something with the show that nobody has done before."
Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Stories and tales set in this kind of universe usually portray a future in which steam power has maintained mainstream usage.
"I have an amazing set designer and set builder, so he has been great at taking my vision and mixing it with his," said Ventura. "I would consider the set to be another star in the show. It's contemporary, full of clock gears, pipes, very adequate for the setting of the show. The costumes are also very cool."
Carried on a wave of songs by Mary Rodgers and lyrics by Marshall Barer, TITG Publicity Manager Leslie Crandell Dawes described the production as "hilarious and raucous, romantic and melodic," and the "rollicking spin on the familiar classic of royal courtship provides for some side-splitting shenanigans."
"Even though the musical is a classic from Broadway, we're giving it a fresh and contemporary sound and fun and elaborate choreographies," said Ventura. "We hope to give the people that come see this the time of their lives. We have a great cast, a really funny story with great comedy, and we hope to
deliver an experience that will remain in their memories forever. All these changes are going to make this production one that you won't want to miss."
The production will run from Friday, Dec. 1 to Sunday, Dec. 17, with Friday and Saturday performances at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are $16 for adults and $14 for seniors (60 and over) and youths (17 and under). They can be bought at the box office at 2028 Pacific Ave. on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or one hour before each performance.
For a complete listing of showtimes, visit www.theatreinthegrove.org or call 503-359-5349.