The SAR High School drama society staged two superb performances of “Once Upon a Mattress,” Mary Rodgers’ and Marshall Barer’s charming fractured fairy tale based on the classic, “The Princess and the Pea.” With hilariously larger-than-life characters, clever dialogue and an array of catchy musical numbers, it is easy to understand the show’s enduring popularity.
But while Mattress may seem frivolous on the surface, it in fact deconstructs and challenges stereotypes and conventions presented in many fairy tales. The show teaches that a drab, gentle prince can adore his princess for being strong, brazen and utterly unique; that true romantic love can deepen by facing and overcoming conflict; and that mother does not, in fact, always know best. But perhaps the most powerful message of all is also the most straightforward: What makes us different is what makes us beautiful, so instead of jumping to judgement, we should approach one another with an open mind and an open heart.
The cast and crew invested a tremendous amount of time, energy and talent into mounting a production that was sweet, funny and visually striking. The audiences laughed, “aww”-ed and gave standing ovations at curtain call. Their energy and positive feedback was extremely gratifying and the cast and crew felt unbelievably proud to delight old fans and inspire new ones in the process. Kol hakavod!