Review Roundup: ONCE UPON A MATTRESS Opens at New York City Center Encores!

The production will run through Feb 4, 2024.

By: Jan. 25, 2024
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Review Roundup: ONCE UPON A MATTRESS Opens at New York City Center Encores!
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The New York City Center Encores! season is presenting Once Upon a Mattress, running through February 4, 2024. 

Sutton Foster (Princess Winnifred) and Michael Urie (Prince Dauntless) star in the beloved fairytale musical featuring music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer, and book by Jay ThompsonDean Fuller, and Marshall Barer. The cast also features Nikki Renée Daniels (Lady Larken), J. Harrison Ghee (Jester), Cheyenne Jackson (Sir Harry), Harriet Harris (Queen Aggravain), Francis Jue (Wizard), and David Patrick Kelly (King Sextimus the Silent).

The ensemble includes Kaleigh CroninBen DavisGaelen Gilliland, Jaquez, Morgan MarcellAbby MatsusakaAdam RobertsRyan Worsing, and Richard Riaz Yoder.  

Led by Tony-nominated Encores! Artistic Director Lear deBessonet, the Once Upon a Mattress features a new concert adaptation by Amy Sherman-Palladino, choreography by Lorin Latarro, and Encores! Music Director Mary-Mitchell Campbell leading The Encores! Orchestra.

See what the critics are saying...

Review Roundup: ONCE UPON A MATTRESS Opens at New York City Center Encores! Elisabeth Vincentelli, The New York Times: Foster’s glee in taking possession of the stage creates an all-encompassing manic energy that both the audience and her scene partners feed off. Prime among them are the archly imperial Harriet Harris (Foster’s co-star in “Thoroughly Modern Millie”) as Queen Aggravain and Michael Urie as her son, the bumbling Prince Dauntless — not the sharpest halberd in the castle, but still smart enough to become endearingly smitten with a shaggy princess who goes by Fred.

Review Roundup: ONCE UPON A MATTRESS Opens at New York City Center Encores! Jackson McHenry, Vulture: That tone is a good fit for a shorter run at Encores!, even if this is a case where you might root against a Broadway transfer, given that the raggedy charm that works for a short-run engagement might not be enough to justify a Broadway ticket, and the antics themselves could well wear out a cast. It wears even by Mattress’s own second act, where the convolutions of the plot get arcane and the jokes repeat.

Review Roundup: ONCE UPON A MATTRESS Opens at New York City Center Encores! David Cote, Observer: After suffering through Once Upon a One More Time last summer, I concluded that musicals about princesses had become a royal bore; no more singing and dancing tiaras for me, please. And yet Sutton Foster’s full-body comic onslaught as Winnifred the Woebegone in Once Upon a Mattress has restored my fealty to throne. Playing her first stage princess since the ogre-besotted Fiona in 2008’s Shrek, Foster musters every talented inch of her limber frame, rubber face, and iron lungs to generate waves of zany ecstasy in this delightful concert version for City Center Encores!

Review Roundup: ONCE UPON A MATTRESS Opens at New York City Center Encores! Elysa Gardner, The Sun: Yet it’s Ms. Foster who truly carries the show, albeit with sparkling assistance from Mr. Urie in their scenes together. All of this leading lady’s leading assets are on display here, from her sometimes underused capacity for dry, sly humor to that Energizer Bunny-like exuberance. The latter fuels rollicking and very funny production numbers, starting with a show-stopping “Shy” — performed upon Winnifred’s entrance after swimming a moat, as she’s still pulling leeches and other small animals from her body and hair.

Review Roundup: ONCE UPON A MATTRESS Opens at New York City Center Encores! Steven Suskin, New York Stage Review: If it’s 2,000 beaming faces aglow with musical comedy pleasure you’re looking for, head over to City Center this week or next to catch Once Upon a Mattress. Several minutes and three songs in, a pair of bright young lovers launch into a gently upbeat ballad duet called “In a Little While,” and all’s right in the world—or at least for the two hours you’re at Encores’ latest.

Review Roundup: ONCE UPON A MATTRESS Opens at New York City Center Encores! Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater: But, unlike the early concerts in the series, it would be hard to argue that the acting and dancing play second (or eighth) fiddle. None of the lead actors read from the scripts on music stands; they are fully costumed, they and the ensemble are fully choreographed. Encores no longer sees its primary mission as offering a second listen to long-dormant musicals with great scores and poor books. One now suspects that the producers are always hoping for a Broadway transfer, such as happened, most spectacularly, with “Chicago.” Even officially, as its page on the City Center website puts it, “This series of concert stagings revisits the archives of American musical theater…spotlighting the vocal talents of star-studded ensembles.” It’s hard to complain when the vocal talent is so abundant, as in “Once Upon A Mattress,” and it’s matched by so much comic talent.

Review Roundup: ONCE UPON A MATTRESS Opens at New York City Center Encores! David Finkle, New York Stage Review: To little avail. The story still awkwardly jumps from sequence to sequence with spare logic, jokes landing with pea-sized humor. Plenty registers as forced, Queen Aggravain’s character probably the most forced. Tiresome time is given to Prince Harry and Lady Larken with the result that Winnifred disappears for long stretches. Myriad shenanigans serve as time fillers before Winnifred, nickname Fred, finally gets to bed down over the miniscule pea.

Review Roundup: ONCE UPON A MATTRESS Opens at New York City Center Encores!
Average Rating: 81.4%


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