Jackie Hoffman & John Epperson Set to Lead ONCE UPON A MATTRESS Benefit for Transport Group, 6/17
Transport Group, the Drama Desk, Outer Critics' Circle, and OBIE award-winning theatre company, has announced that it will present a one-night-only, all-star concert of the acclaimed 1959 classic Broadway musical Once Upon A Mattress on Monday, June 17 at 7pm at the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre in the Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42 Street. Jackie Hoffman will star as Princess Winnifred with John "Lypsinka" Epperson as The Queen Aggravain, and the evening will be directed by five-time Drama Desk nominee, Jack Cummings III. Composer Mary Rodgers will take part in a post-show discussion with the audience. Further casting will be announced at a later date. The benefit concert for Transport Group is co-produced by John Epperson.
In the fairy-tale world of Once Upon A Mattress, King Sextimus is unable to speak and his terror of a wife, Queen Aggravain, has taken over control of the kingdom. Most importantly, in an attempt to keep Prince Dauntless single, she has decreed that only the princess that can pass her test may marry her son. Further, no one else in the kingdom may marry until Prince Dauntless does. Lady Larken and Sir Harry are extremely disturbed by this fact since Lady Larken is now pregnant with Sir Harry's baby. Luckily, Sir Harry is able to find an amazing princess, Winnifred the Woebegone. Winnifred instantly catches the attention of Prince Dauntless, and in the end, is able to pass the Queen's supposedly impassable sensitivity test. When the Queen still tries to prevent Prince Dauntless from marrying, he tells her to 'shut up' which ends up breaking the curse on the King. Now able to speak, King Sextimus regains his rightful position as leader of the kingdom, and all live happily ever after.
Once Upon A Mattress is a musical comedy with music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer, and book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Marshall Barer. It opened off-Broadway in May 1959, and then moved to Broadway, opening in November of 1959. The musical was written as an adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, The Princess and the Pea. The show made an instant star of Carol Burnett who originated the role of Princess Winnifred. Once Upon A Mattress received two Tony Award nominations, one for Burnett and the other for Best Musical. Three television adaptations followed the original production, two with Burnett reprising her role and the third in 2005 starring Tracey Ullman as Winnifred and Burnett playing the Queen.
Artistic Director Jack Cummings III says, "Like millions of others over the last 54 years, Once Upon A Mattress is one of my favorite musicals-so, when John Epperson approached me with the inspired idea of Jackie Hoffman as Princess Winnifred and himself as The Queen Aggravain, I jumped at the chance. The score and book are both brilliantly hilarious and heartfelt. And we are absolutely honored and thrilled that Mary Rodgers will be joining us to talk with the audience afterwards and celebrate this show that has given endless joy to countless generations."
Founded in 2001, Transport Group, under the leadership of Jack Cummings III, Artistic Director, and Lori Fineman, Executive Director, is a not-for-profit theatre company that stages new works and re-imagined revivals by American writers. Their visually progressive productions of emotionally classic stories explore the challenges of relationships and identity in America. Transport Group is the winner of a special Drama Desk Award for its "breadth of vision and its presentation of challenging productions." Transport Group presented its premiere production in 2002: Thornton Wilder's Our Town, which featured older actors in the roles of Emily and George and a twelve-year-old girl as the Stage Manager. Its second production, Requiem for William, an evening of seven seldom produced plays by William Inge, that featured a cast of 26 as well as original songs, premiered in 2003. In 2004 the company presented the first New York revival of Michael John LaChiusa's First Lady Suite, which received rave reviews, played to sold-out houses, and earned two Drama Desk Award nominations including Outstanding Revival of a Musical. Other productions include the world premiere of the musical The Audience, which featured a cast of 46 actors and earned three Drama Desk Award nominations, including Outstanding Musical; Normal, a new musical about a mother's battle to save her daughter from anorexia; cul-de-sac, a new play by Tony Award nominee John Cariani; the first New York revival of Tad Mosel's Pulitzer Prize play, All the Way Home; the 50th anniversary, OBIE-winning production of William Inge's The Dark at the Top of the Stairs; the world premiere musicals Crossing Brooklyn, Marcy in the Galaxy, and Being Audrey, and the first New York revival of Irwin Shaw's Bury the Dead. Both First Lady Suite and Bury the Dead were filmed for the New York Performing Arts Library's Theatre on Film and Tape Archive at Lincoln Center. In 2010 Transport Group presented a sold-out, extended engagement of Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band, which received an OBIE Award and was nominated for five 2010 Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Revival of a Play-the most for an off-Broadway play. Transport Group's productions of See Rock City and Other Destinations by Brad Alexander and Adam Mathias, and Hello Again by Michael John LaChiusa combined for eleven 2011 Drama Desk Award nominations and one win. Transport Group's production of Lysistrata Jones, by Douglas Carter Beane and Lewis Flinn, opened to rave reviews, played to sell-out houses, and transferred to Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre where it received a Tony Award nomination for Best Book of a Musical. The company's most recent productions include the Outer Critics Circle nominated run of The Patsy and Jonas, starring OBIE winner David Greenspan; Michael John LaChiusa's world premiere musical, Queen of the Mist.(8 Drama Desk nominations and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical); the world premiere of Jonathan Franzen's House For Sale; and the critically-acclaimed musical, The Memory Show, starring Catherine Cox and Leslie Kritzer. For more information about Transport Group visit www.transportgroup.org.
Transport Group is currently in the middle of its 20th Century Project, a ten-year initiative spanning ten productions, each production focusing on a different decade of the 20th century. The ten productions comprise five musicals and five plays-including three commissioned musicals, two commissioned plays, and five revivals. Its most recent production, Queen of the Mist, was the project's inaugural presentation.
Transport Group's all-star concert of Once Upon A Mattress will take place Monday, June 17 at 7pm at the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42 Street. Premium reserved seats are $125 and general admission tickets are available for $59. Tickets may be purchased by visiting www.transportgroup.org or by phoning 212-564-0333.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos