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Feature: MASH NOTE TO ONCE UPON A MATTRESS at Swift Creek Mill Theatre

Feature: MASH NOTE TO ONCE UPON A MATTRESS at Swift Creek Mill Theatre

I know Swift Creek Mill has had a lot of eras that could be called golden, but for me the period around 2008 was memorable. In particular, I recall loving their production that year of "Once Upon a Mattress," the "Princess and the Pea" rewrite by Marshall Barer, Jay Thompson and Dean Fuller, with music by Mary Rodgers.

At that time Swift Creek regularly employed much of the gang that appeared in this show-Audra Honaker, Brett Ambler, Joy Williams, Jason Marks, Derek Phipps. In addition, this cast had Michael Hawke, Matt Polson and Katrinah Carol Lewis, so it was a winner from the word go.

Who could be more perfect as the not-so-dainty Princess Winnifred than Honaker? When she belted "I'm SHY," when she nailed every bit of physical comedy, she was irresistible. How funny was it to see Lewis as the knocked-up Lady Larken? Kind of risqué for a show from 1959. Ambler played wimpy Prince Dauntless, and Williams was over-the-top hilarious as nasty Queen Aggravain.

Maura Lynch Cravey provided especially lush costumes for the production, and Paul Deiss had the five-piece band in great form. For director Tom Width it was a special show, as it had been the first one he appeared in at the Mill, in 1976, and he got every possible laugh out of the material.

* * *

And a little PS for my series about Richmond shows I regret missing: I complained in my "Mattress" review that Marks didn't get to sing in the show-he had the role of King Septimus, who's mute. I'll add two more complaints about Jason: I've always been sad that I missed seeing him in Virginia Rep's "The Producers" in 2012, with Scott Wichmann, and "Shrek" in 2008, with Ronnie Brown and Aly Wepplo. I was living in California. I love both shows, and I bet he was amazing in them.

Photo credit: Mike Haubenstock


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From This Author - Susan Haubenstock

Susan Haubenstock has written theater criticism since 1989, first for the Stamford (CT) Advocate and then for the Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch. She has an MA in theater from the University of Illin... (read more about this author)


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