A Spunky Princess Came to MidvaleAug 13, 2015 04:14PM ● By Bryan Scott
Liz Kershisnik-Gwynn, playing the part of Queen Aggravain, has a chat with her son, played by Tanner Tate in the Midvale Art’s Council production of “Once Upon a Mattress”.
By Tori Jorgensen
Midvale City hosted some interesting visitors, including a spunky princess, a sinister queen and a mute king as the Midvale Arts Council presented its summer musical production in the Midvale Park July 10-18.
The musical, “Once Upon a Mattress”, is based on a common story, “The Princess and the Pea”, but the characters do not fit the stereotypes of most fairy tales. The prince is not overly brave and charming, the queen is not admirable, and the princess is not the usual prim and proper girl. Candice Jorgensen, assistant director, said it was nice to put on a show with atypical characters.
“The princess is quirky,” Jorgensen said. “It’s a great play to show that all the weird girls out there can have happy endings too.”
The first time Alyssa Koontz, who played the zany Princess Winnifred, took the stage she was covered in leaves claiming she had gone swimming in the castle’s moat. She confidently sang the showy song “Shy”, demonstrating anything but timidity. The audience laughed as she continued to defy the norm of princess-hood. Much of the humor in the play came from this kind of situational irony.
Producer Stephanie Johnson said this was the silliest, funniest, most high-energy show that Midvale Arts Council has ever done. She said this made the play suitable for an audiences of all ages, including children. Not only was the show suitable for a young audience, the cast was primarily made up of young people with 15 children and several young adults.
Director Stephanie Chatterton said the hardest part about working with the young cast was the overload of scheduling conflicts with rehearsal times, because of summer break.
“Overall they really stepped it up, though,” she said. “For many of them it was their first time on stage, and every performance went well.”
Jorgensen said another challenge in performing this show was finding enough men to fill all the roles. She said they were afraid of not getting a full cast, but the cast members referred their friends.
One of the men who got roped in to the show was Kevin Gwynn. Although, his wife, Liz Kershisnik-Gwynn who played Queen Aggravain, had been in many plays, this production was Gwynn’s first. Kershisnik-Gwynn said she was at callbacks when Jorgensen asked her if her husband would be interested in trying out for the part of the king.
“I had to coax him into it,” Kershisnik-Gwynn said. “They threw him on stage and they had him mock me while I was reading a monologue. Everyone was laughing so hard at his performance, so he got the part.”
Gwynn’s character, King Sextimus the Silent, spent the majority of the play speaking only in pantomime. In one song, Gwynn’s character explained reproduction to his son in a game of charades. Jorgensen said this was a favorite part of many.
A local scout troop attended the play to support one of their members who was in the stage crew. One of the troop members, Jacob Minson, said he could tell the play was low-budget, but that he thought the cast and crew did a great job with what they had. Kershisnik-Gwynn made a similar comment.
“A good cast has the biggest impact on a show. More than talent, a successful cast comes from when people are team players,” she said. “Midvale doesn’t have amazing sets and awesome costumes, but they have a lot of heart and that makes up for it.”