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Once Upon A Mattress at Koorliny Arts Centre

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Bed down for hilarious musical based on classic fairytale
Once Upon A Mattress, The Princess and The Pea, musical, theatre, family, kids, children, Laughing Horse Productions, Koorliny Arts Centre, performing arts
Lachlan Felstead, left, Paige Montebello, Lincoln Tapping, Emmalee Bialas, Felix Camper, Gabriella Munro, Phillippa Bialas, Bethany Tandy and Lawson Sweetman are appearing in Once Upon A Mattress. Picture: Zoe Jay

What do you get when you mix one pea, 20 mattresses and a princess-to-be named Fred? A raucous, romantic and melodic spin on the Hans Christian Andersen classic The Princess and the Pea, playing at the Koorliny Arts Centre this April.

Presented by Laughing Horse Productions and directed by Adam Salathiel, Once Upon A Mattress is a whimsical musical comedy adaptation by Mary Rodgers and Marshall Barer. It's the story of a lonely mummy's boy prince and an overbearing queen hellbent on protecting her son and kingdom.

With time working against some of the ladies in waiting, Sir Harry must scour the land looking for the last remaining princess to marry the prince. A mid-90s Broadway revival starred Sarah Jessica Parker and a 2005 Disney television version featured Zooey Deschanel and Tracey Ullman.

Once Upon A Mattress, The Princess and The Pea, musical, theatre, family, kids, children, Laughing Horse Productions, Koorliny Arts Centre, performing arts
Lawson Sweetman, left, Emmalee Bialas and Paige Montebello share the magic of a classic fairytale in Once Upon A Mattress. Picture: Zoe Jay

"Once Upon a Mattress is a story of love, laughter and a young princess coming of age," Adam said. "It's a true Disney family-style show, complete with romance, laughter, danger, singing and dancing where everybody gets their happily ever after, after all."

The main challenge, according to Adam, is directing a show that has an all-youth cast – everyone is 18 and under – and multiple levels of humour. "It's a production that has things youth will laugh at but humour that adults will understand and children will miss," he said.

"The subtle nuances make this show highly entertaining, both for the cast and audience members watching it. Everyone needs to engage with the audience through singing, dancing and acting – even ensemble roles are vital to making the audience believe in the magic of the live theatre happening in front of them."

Once Upon A Mattress, The Princess and The Pea, musical, theatre, family, kids, children, Laughing Horse Productions, Koorliny Arts Centre, performing arts
Gabriella Munro, left, as the Jester and Phillippa Bialas as the Minstrel in Once Upon A Mattress. Picture: Zoe Jay

First performing as a 10-year-old, Adam has been involved in theatre as an actor, director, producer and lighting and sound operator with the Old Mill, Kwinana, Roleystone, Phoenix, Marloo and Mandurah Little Theatres, Murray Music and Drama, Karratha Players, Dampier and Districts Repertory Company, A lad in sane productions, ARENAarts and the Mandurah Performing Arts and Koorliny Arts Centres.

Currently, he is artistic director of Laughing Horse Productions where he directed the company's inaugural production The Pirates of Penzance in 2013, as well as Kecks, Shirley Valentine and Cut It Out. Adam has also scored several awards and nominations over the years for best supporting actor, director, production, stage manager, costumes and set.

"Having performed in Once Upon a Mattress in 2006 at Roleystone Theatre, I fell in love with the storyline and ever since I've had the desire to see it performed by an all-youth cast," he said. "It has always been one of my favourite musicals – it's a bright cherry with a lot of laughs. Although set in medieval times, the show has a lot of humour and large song-and-dance numbers that are guaranteed to have the audiences clapping and toe-tapping along with the cast."

Once Upon A Mattress, The Princess and The Pea, musical, theatre, family, kids, children, Laughing Horse Productions, Koorliny Arts Centre, performing arts
Once Upon A Mattress features Paige Montebello, at back, as Princess Winnifred and Lincoln Tapping as Prince Dauntless. Picture: Zoe Jay

Fourteen-year-old Paige Montebello plays Princess Winnifred. "She's not a regular, run-of-the-mill princess," she said. "Winnifred is strong and independent and never one to back down from a challenge. My hardest task in the show will be climbing on to 20 soft, downy mattresses."

Performing from age seven, Paige's first role was a lamb in Charlotte's Web and she has since appeared in 10 musicals at the Mandurah Performing and Koorliny Arts Centres and Murray Music and Drama Club. "When I read through the audition pack for Once Upon A Mattress, I really liked Winnifred's character and thought she was a lot like myself in many ways, so thought it would be a fun and challenging role to play," she said.

Once Upon A Mattress plays at 7pm April 7, 8, 14, 15 and 21 with 1pm matinees April 8, 15 and 22. Tickets are $25, $20 concession – book on 9467 7118 or at www.koorliny.com.au. The Koorliny Arts Centre is on Sulphur Road, Kwinana.

Once Upon A Mattress, The Princess and The Pea, musical, theatre, family, kids, children, Laughing Horse Productions, Koorliny Arts Centre, performing arts
Once Upon A Mattress features, at back, Mikayla Wyartt, Lili Mae Thoms, Ireland Denher, Jemma Steele and Haylee-Jayde Taaffe; Isla Sweetman and Charli Scott in the middle and Luna Harpaz, at front.
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Why? It’s a wonderful mix of song and dance – and comedy – that puts a great spin on a classic fairytale.
When: 7pm April 7, 8, 14, 15 & 21; 1pm April 8, 15 & 22
Phone: 9467 7118
Where: Koorliny Arts Centre, Sulphur Road, Kwinana
Cost: $25, $20 concession
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