Glenbard West Theatre presents Once Upon a Mattress for fall 2016 musical


The Glenbard West Theatre Club will perform Tony Award-nominated musical comedy Once Upon a Mattress for its 2016 fall show. The production is directed by West drama teacher Michael Fox and Student Directors Jacob Kelleher and Kate Dentinger.

The show, first performed on Broadway in 1959, is an adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Princess and the Pea.

Fox, who chose the musical, believes it is a show “that both young and old will enjoy.”

While Fox directs the musical and is in charge of casting, it’s really the students that bring the show to life. “We have an extremely talented group of students and this show has roles that really allow the talent we have here to show off,” he says.

This show is much different than West’s productions from the 2015-2016 season. Student Director Jacob Kelleher is excited for the “more traditional musical”  which has, according to Theatre Club President Briana Hryhorysak,  a lot of “teen humor.”

Many of the students involved in the business, acting, and tech aspects of the show are seniors. Kate Dentinger, senior Student Director, says the experience is “bittersweet because we’ve had such fun [in] the last three years.”

Despite all their experience performing at West, the theatre seniors’ passion for the art hasn’t died down. Jacob Kelleher has student directed before, but he still loves “to work on every inch of the show” and “[watch] it come all together.”

The characters match the actors’ personalities at West well. Fox chose the play for its abundant “strong female roles” that will be portrayed by West’s talented females involved in theatre.

Caitlin Palmisano, a senior at West, portrays the queen, an “overbearing, overprotective mother to prince Dauntless.” She claims that the character is “intense” and there’s “a lot of room to play with the character.” Caitlin adds,  “I like the queen because while she’s the evil character, she’s very funny and likeable to the audience.”

Senior Ori Harris, who has acted in numerous shows throughout his career at West, is excited to explore his comedic side for his role as King Sextimus: “[King Sextimus] is definitely the entertainment of the cast. He keeps it fresh and the spirits high.” Though it will be Ori’s last musical at West, he’s eager “to be here one more time.” Ori adds, “It’s not the end, it’s just the beginning.”

Along with the actors and actresses that make up the cast, the crew is just as necessary to the production of the show. With just two months to prepare the musical for performance, all the parts of the club must work together well to put on a successful show.

The business side of theatre focuses on drawing in audience members through ticket sales and publicity coverage, as well as fundraises for the club with concessions and merchandise sales. Business primarily functions during the last few weeks leading up to the show, and is therefore “a good alternative” for students who want to be involved in theatre but don’t have the time to act, says Bijoy Shah, Business Director.

“Without business, [there would not be] an audience,” says Fox, Director.

The technical positions, including the sound effects and most visual components of the show, are “just as much a part of the storytelling,” says Fox. Yuvia Serna, one of the three Student Tech Directors, loves “watching how the show slowly comes together” with the students “who work on and off stage.”

Specifically for the musical, the music department recruits a variety of student musicians to play live during the production. Playing the live music “gives the energy to the show,” according to Mr. Fox. Using West students as accompaniment, led by orchestra director William Ortega, “gets more students involved in the show” and sounds much better than pre-recorded tracks, according to Fox, the Director.

While the cast and crew of Once Upon a Mattress has a lot of skill and experience in theatre production, the Theatre Club still works hard to bring in new faces and new talent. Theatre Club President Briana Hryhorysak is most excited for “the new crop of kids and the attitude they bring,” and is eager to continue providing the “welcoming atmosphere” that unites all of West Theatre during production season.

The cast and crew has only a few weeks to piece together their version of Once Upon a Mattress, which will run November 10th-12th in Glenbard West’s auditorium.