Harlequin has dance, music, humor
Published: Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Updated: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 23:04
Last week, from March 25-28, in Venable theatre, Harlequin performed this year's musical, "Once Upon A Mattress."
The show opened on a very good note with a song by the Minstrel (Kat Sanford). Sanford sang beautifully as she hit higher and higher notes. She explained that the show the audience came to see is the true telling of "The Princess and the Pea."
As the first scene began, it was hard not to take in the set. The actors stood on an outstretched, open storybook. The chair the king sat in was a cartoonishly large colorful decoration. The set brought the viewer into the scene immediately.
The set looked like a pop-up book, and every prop was two dimensional, making the whole production seem like a fairy tale.
In the play, Prince Dauntless (Jeffrey Bliss) is trying to find a wife, but due to the constant interruption of his overprotective and easily hateable mother Queen Aggravain (Laura Gibson), has been unsuccessful with twelve possible spouses.
The prince's father, King Sextimus (Chris Dellea) has been cursed and cannot speak. Between that, and his generally immature behavior, the king plays as a very funny character.
When Sir Harry (Jesse Egan-Poirier) wants to marry one of the ladies in waiting, Lady Larken (Larissa Huda), he makes it his personal quest to find the prince a princess. Soon, he returns with Princess Winnifred (Elin Hardenberg), a very "different" princess, who is a lot less proper and a lot more girl next door.
The Queen instantly dislikes her and sets up a plan with the kingdom's Wizard (Keifer Gammell) to set up a test Princess Winnifred couldn't possibly pass to prove her worthiness.
Before mentioning the cast, it is important to think of the ensemble. The play's ensemble performed nearly flawlessly, interweaving dance steps and backup singing into the group performances.
As the true star, Hardenberg shined as Princess Winnifred. She was the most believable character and had a very strong voice. Through a lackadaisical and very unprincessly style, Hardenberg won over the crowd and made for an easy protagonist.
Hardenberg worked well with Bliss, who benefited a lot from being on stage with his character's wife-to-be.
Perhaps the most impressive performance of the play came from an unlikely source. Dellea was absolutely hilarious as King Sextimus, finding what he could with what little he was given. Even though he couldn't speak, Dellea helped the audience see that the king was a good man, even though his wife was the opposite.
Gibson also delivered a believable performance and created a character the audience loved to hate. She had one of the more impressive voices, but wasn't given a lot of chances to show it off.
The supporting actors, Egan-Poirier, Huda, Gammell, Sanford, and Edgar Contreras as the Jester provided an overall good job, and helped keep the audience entertained when all the main characters weren't present.
Egan-Poirier and Huda had a couple of songs together. Egan-Poirier's singing wasn't as high-quality compared to Huda's, which caused them to clash. However the two had great chemistry on stage when not singing, creating many laughs.
Sanford, Contreras and Dellea delivered most of the funniest parts of the play, and had one of the best moments, performing a song with Dellea, even though he couldn't speak.
Whenever a song started and in-between scenes, musicians played. The band's piano player (Michael James Roy) was exceptional, helping to pick up the relatively reoccurring mistakes of Trumpeter Sarah Dion.
Overall, the play was a success, and although some of the singers were noticeably better than others, the professionalism of the company was clearly present.