Teenagers set to perform in Middle Ages

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 14, 2002

The Austin High School will be premiering its fall musical "Once Upon a Mattress" at the Christgau Hall at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday.

The musical comedy, first written in 1959 by Mary Rodgers and Marshall Barer, is based on the tale of The Princess and the Pea.

"It is one of those sort of popular musicals. Not so popular as 'Grease,' but not so unknown that no one has heard about it," Lucas Johnson director of the musical said.

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Johnson said that he chose this play because it is the kind that does not have lead characters. Rather, everyone has an important role.

"I looked at the group of kids who tried out this year and I figured I used this musical so they could show off their talent," Johnson said.

Set in the Middle Ages, the original story centers around Prince Dauntless and his mother Queen Agrivain who will only let her son marry a true princess who can pass her unpassable test. The upshot is that no one in the kingdom can marry until Prince Dauntless does. The Prince meets Princess Winnifred, who catches his attention, and at the end manages to pass the test and everyone lives happily ever after.

The 15-member cast this year, Johnson pointed out, has it a good mixture of younger- and upper-class students.

"We tried to go by the book. But because not as many people tried out, we had to give some actors extra lines," said Johnson.

Nick Watson, a sophomore who plays Prince Dauntless, said he has been doing drama for a while. In between breaks, Watson likes to ride his bike around to relax and practice his lines.

"It is interesting to see a play go from a bunch of people reading from a piece of paper to singing and dancing. It's like putting together a jigsaw puzzle that you have no control over," Watson said.

After six weeks of rehearsals, the actors are excited to perform, according to Johnson. Senior Jennifer McIntosh, who plays Queen Agrivain and has been doing theater all her life, said it was fun doing the play.

"It is a great musical for the kids because of all the special effects and great for the adults because of the good humor," McIntosh said.

The two-act musical runs for about two hours and is $5 for students and seniors and $7 for adults.

Roxana Orellana can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at roxana.orellana@austindailyherald.com