A Vibrant Fairy Tale Takes the Stage: Once Upon A Mattress


Leah Zika

The Minstrel (Riley Elwess), the Jester (Dahnielle Florestant), and the King (Piper Crain) convince Lady Larken (Hollyn Anderson) to run away from the kingdom.

Prairie High School’s Drama Club presented their rendition of the musical Once Upon a Mattress from November 4th through the 12th in the PHS auditorium. 

The world the actors took their audience into was a comedic, glittery, and magical one. A satirical retelling of Princess and the Pea, Once Upon a Mattress follows the story of Princess Winnifred, a brash girl who goes against typical societal norms, and fights for the hand of Prince Dauntless. Tawny Eastman, who played Princess Winnefred, said “Once Upon a Mattress was special because the story we got to tell was timeless and super impactful today,” highlighting the special meaning behind the colorful comedy. 

Spending their summer in rehearsal to prepare for their show, the cast learned various dances and spent their time getting to know their character. “It was a very exciting show because I was learning a lot of new things and getting to try out a lot of different stuff,” said Mae Bray, a dance captain, and ensemble actor. “But on the other hand, it was really challenging because it was my first time being in a leadership position like that. But, we all had this understanding and mutual respect for each other, which made it easier.”

After school started back up in August, the cast spent their time coming in for after-school rehearsals, which helped further their understanding of the show and the physical work they had to put forward. With songs like Shy and Happily Ever After, Eastman was among the many who put outstanding physical work into the musical. “I actually did a lot of running to build up my endurance so that I could sing and dance in preparation for my performance,” she revealed. 

Additionally, because of the endless hours spent with one another, the cast spent their time bonding over their love for theater and became very close friends. Riley Elwess, who took on the role of the Minstrel, mentioned that friendship with her fellow castmates was vital to her character, and she got to “bond with the Jester (Dahnielle Florestant) and the King (Piper Crain), because [they] were very close in the show.” The three actors ran around jokingly calling themselves the “trio” and caused an in-character ruckus everywhere they went. By the time the show dates came near, the cast realized that respect and friendship were the key factors to a stunning show and performance.

Mae Bray also spoke of the mutual regard for others, “It’s really important to have that as a cast, you have to be able to work together or it won’t work.” Bray said.

With a total of 7 exuberant and lively shows, the cast had plenty of shimmering memories to reflect on. “My favorite part of the show was getting to open because my song, in the beginning, opened up the entire show,” Elwess said. Her monologue song introduced the audience to the premise of the musical.

Tawny Eastman also reminisced over a fond moment from the final night. “My favorite moment of the show was closing night, I had the last bow of the show. When I turned around to look at the whole cast, I saw a look of love. Everyone just looked like they loved to be there, and the audience gave us a standing ovation. I just started crying, there was so much love in the room.” Eastman said after mentioning it was one of her last shows with the PHS Drama Club. 

After their final show, the smell of hairspray littered the air, and flashy costume pieces were strewn across the greenroom floor as the cast said goodbye to the musical that brought them together. With loving memories and lessons learned on neverending hard work, mutual respect, and loving friendships, these actors composed one breathtakingly shining show!