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Liberty Middle To Perform ‘Once Upon a Mattress’

“The audience will come away happy.”

Featuring a cast and crew of nearly 70, Liberty Middle School presents the musical comedy, “Once upon a Mattress.” Show times are Thursday-Saturday, April 18, 19 and 20, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door and during school lunches.

The actors have been rehearsing since January, and Director Jody Scott is delighted with their attitude, as well as their talent. “What impresses me most about this cast is that we truly have ensemble acting,” she said. “The students support and encourage each other and appreciate the hard work each other is doing.”

It’s the story of “The Princess and the Pea” in which only a real princess will be able to feel a hard pea hidden beneath 20 mattresses. It takes place in medieval times in a castle, and Scott borrowed Thoreau Middle’s costumes. “They did this play two years ago; parents handmade the costumes and they’re exquisite.”

Praising her singers and dancers, Scott said her actors have worked on character development and “reacting to what happens on stage. There’s also a lot of spirited dancing, which the kids love.” She said the student playing Winnifred is a dancer and singer, “so she’s especially good for this role.”

As the silent king, eighth-grader Edris Amin has no dialogue until the end. But, said Scott, “His way of emoting and acting toward the audience is hilarious. He doesn’t have to say a thing and he cracks us up at rehearsals; he’s hysterically funny. All ages will enjoy this show; the audience will come away happy.”

Eighth-grader Emma Conard plays the queen. “She’s evil and doesn’t want anyone in the kingdom to marry until her son, Prince Dauntless, does,” said Emma. “So princesses from other kingdoms come to meet him; but the queen gives them impossible tests to do because she doesn’t want him to marry and leave her.”

Emma said the queen “talks a lot and everything has to be her way. She put a curse on her husband so he can’t talk and disagree with her. It’s fun playing her because she’s so different from me and I get to yell at people.” Emma also likes singing ‘Sensitivity’ because “it brings out the queen’s ruthless character. The audience will enjoy this show because every character is funny.”

Portraying Prince Dauntless the Drab is eighth-grader Hridhay (Reed) Rangaraju. “He’s 21-22, but mentally like a child because his mother’s suppressed him,” said Reed. “He realizes this once he meets a princess he really loves. He’s also a nice guy, kind of shy, and the character everybody wants to love.”

It’s challenging, said Reed, because “he’s quiet and I’m more outgoing. And I have to increase my pitch to make his voice sound more childish. But everybody respects me as a prince onstage.” He said the audience will like the show’s “sense of family, brotherhood and camaraderie and the sub-conflicts within the story. Everyone wants to please the queen, but they want to get married even more.”

Margot Vanyan wanted to play Princess Winnifred because “she’s a lot like me — outgoing, energetic and doesn’t care what people say about her. I sing loudly and she speaks loudly. And as a seventh-grader, I’m excited to have a lead role. When people first meet her, she’s just swum the castle’s moat, so they’re surprised by her.”

Margot loves singing “Shy” because “Winnifred’s singing about how shy she is, while belting out the words and practically yelling.” And, she added, “This show’s so funny, the audience will be holding their stomachs and laughing the whole time.”

Playing Sir Harry is eighth-grader Jeremy Rathjen. “He’s self-obsessed and in love with Lady Larkin,” said Jeremy. “She’s his dream girl and will be a lady-in-waiting to the future princess. He’s also a knight who hungers for battle.”

“I love this part — it’s awesome,” said Jeremy. “He’s a starry-eyed lover and is just so silly, so it’s fun to be a comedian, interact with the audience and try to make people laugh. Everybody will love the story; it’ll be a great show.”