The spring musical at Clear Creek High School is all about challenges.
This year, co-directors Mary Lou Helseth and Caitlyn Dykstra wanted to try something different than in years past to challenge the students in “Once Upon a Mattress.”
“We wanted to do something drastically different,” said Helseth, who is also the school librarian. “Last year, we added adults to the cast for ‘Footloose.’ This year, we wanted to do a show where we could add cast members from the middle school. There’s also a Carlson (Elementary School) student in the show.”
In addition, the choreography is more challenging than in past years, with more couples dances.
“They love the choreography,” said Dykstra, the school’s choral music teacher, who choreographed the dances. “They take on anything, and they do whatever I ask them to do. They’re doing some really challenging things.”
For those old enough to remember such things, Carol Burnett made her acting debut in “Once Upon a Mattress” on Broadway. She also started in the movie version.
The show is a comedy and is appropriate for all ages. Young children will enjoy it.
“It has funny, quirky things that you would expect Carol Burnett to do,” Helseth said. “The musical shows that things are not always rosy in fairy-tale land.”
The show is a fractured fairy tale, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Princess and the Pea.”
The story is about a mean queen who really doesn’t want her son, Prince Dauntless, to get married. So she makes each prospective bride go through a test. Candidate No. 13 is Princess Winnifred, known as Fred, who wants to marry the prince so badly that she swims the moat to get to the castle.
Expecting a real test, Princess Fred studies and studies, but one night she is expected to sleep on a stack of mattresses. She does not sleep well because a pea is placed under the bottom mattress — the test of her worthiness to marry the prince. She passes, they marry, and they all live happily ever after.
At the very end, the audience learns that it wasn’t a pea that kept Princess Fred awake at all. The couple’s friends put a host of things between the mattresses to keep her uncomfortable and therefore awake.
The costumes are quite elaborate, with the female characters wearing a series of ball gowns that range in color from lighter shades when things are going well to darker shades when the mood is more sinister.
When the co-directors talk about the show, they like to talk about the bling — bling on the costumes, bling on the jewelry, bling on the props, bling everywhere.
“The show is more modern with the costumes,” Dykstra said. “The costumes are more flashy, more showy, more Vegas-style. I can’t tell you the number of hours we have spent putting sequins on costumes.”