BWW Review: ONCE UPON A MATTRESS at Artistic Synergy Of Baltimore is a Royally Fun Romp
A musical comedy starring a very funny leading lady winning her prince simply by being herself, is the perfect anecdote for these stressful times. That's why it's perfectly fitting that Artistic Synergy of Baltimore (ASoB) chose to present ONCE UPON A MATTRESS as the opening show to their 2018-2019 season. ASoB's production, which opened October 5 is a fun and funny musical romp back to medieval England. Prince Dauntless needs a wife, yet his overbearing mother only wants the perfect girl for her perfect son. Cue Winnifred, princess of the swamps. She's loud, brash and fun. In other words, a terrible match for Dauntless, who falls quickly head over heels in love with her. Chaos and comedy ensue.
Princess Winnifred, or Fred as she's known to friends is played by Kristin Miller. Her Fred is her own woman, charming the entire castle, except the evil mom of her soon to be betrothed. Miller has a beautiful voice, and plays the character with joy. She is made for this part, and seems to be enjoying herself immensely. Her physical comedy is a great addition to the show. The final scene where the bed, and the princess and the pea come into play, is an uproarious ending to a very fun show.
As Fred's soon to be (if she has anything to do with it) husband, Prince Dauntless as played by Andrew Pedrick is shy, timid and so very smitten by Fred. Pedrick plays the role of the clueless prince very well. He's kind and loving, and only wants to do what everyone else tells him to do. Pedrick and Miller are the perfect match for each other, and their characters' coupling is a match made in heaven.
Throughout this coupling though, stands the Queen played by Stacey Bonds. Bonds' take on the very loud and very controlling queen is a delight. She takes a character that is supposed to be hated, and allows the audience to fall in love with her. Bonds adds a touch of annoyance to everything she says, making her Queen completely over the top and hilarious at the same time. Bonds is a fantastic foil to Pendrick's Dauntless and Miller's Fred.
Surrounded by these larger than life characters, stands a fabulous and very talented ensemble lead by the Jester (Mel Tillery), the Minstrel (James Fitzpatrick) and a Silent (but still very funny) King (Emma Hawthorn). Their meddling to help Prince Dauntless gives the actors ample time to play off of each other. In another world - for instance Medieval England - these three actors star in their own wonderfully funny variety show together. Hawthorn's use of pantomime to express the King's feelings, and Fitzpatrick and Tillery's interpretations of what the King is trying to say provides some of the best comedic moments in the show.
The monarchy of this Kingdom, and their faithful servants and hand-maids all live in a Castle, obviously. This is where the det designers (Bill Bisbee, Amy Rudai and Pat Rudai) all shine. Due to some minor flooding in their usual space, ASoB was forced to move into a smaller room in the church. However, the designers still manage to create a workable and creative set that conveys all parts of the Castle. Even in the small space, the set moved effortlessly through different rooms, with a few moving walls and some scenery. The big design moment in this particular show is always how the very large stack of mattresses is presented. While I won't spoil the moment for you, I will say their design for the bed is crafty and creative, and fits the show's world perfectly.
Comedies like ONCE UPON A MATTRESS soar when the cast is well-suited for the slapstick material, the design helps to create a new world, and the choreography shines a spotlight on it all. In the case of ASoB, they've brought all of these elements together, by assembling a team that knows exactly how to work together to focus on the fun of the piece. By doing so, ASoB has created a fun and vibrant comedy that's perfect for children and adults alike!
ONCE UPON A MATTRESS plays through October 14, 2018 at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church | 8212 Philadelphia Road, Baltimore MD, 21227 | Visit Artistic Synergy of Baltimore for Tickets.