Once Upon A Mattress is based on the famous fairy tale, The Princess and the Pea. A high energy, over the top comedy.
The kingdom is an unhappy one. King Sextimus the silent has been struck dumb by a witch's curse and is condemned not to speak again until "the mouse devours the hawk!" Queen Aggravian has assumed power and she talks enough for the whole Royal household. She has decreed that no one in the Kingdom may wed until Prince Dauntless is married to a true princess of Royal blood. So far the Queen has tested the eligibility of eleven applicants and each has failed the almost impossible tests the Queen has devised.
The Knights and Ladies of the Court are most distressed by the situation but the most concerned are Lady Larken and her handsome lover, Sir Harry. Lady Larken has informed Sir Harry that he is to be a father so the situation is quite desperate. Sir Harry, determined to find a true princess, sets off for, until now, unexplored parts and returns with Princess Winnifred. She arrives dripping wet have swum the moat and proceeds to act as unlike a princess as one could possibly imagine. Prince Dauntless is very impressed by the new princess and is soon obviously in love with her - to the consternation of the angry Queen, who decides to give her an impossible test. She consults the Wizard and together they decide on the the sensitivity test - a pea is placed beneath twenty mattresses and the Queen decrees that if Princess Winnifred cannot sleep she will prove her royal birth. However, to ensure that she does sleep, she proceeds to do everything to make her tired out. A ball is held where the dancing is fast and furious and Winnifred is encouraged to drink heavily. She is also given a sleeping draught and a singing bird is provided to sing her to sleep.(Because of her noble birth, a Princess is unable to sleep on a bed of many mattresses when a tiny pea is placed underneath the bottom mattress.)
However, the Queen fails, for Winnifred cannot sleep and spends the night counting sheep. The Queen is furious and orders Princess Winnifred to leave, but Prince Dauntless defies her and puts an end to the curse upon the King for, as the Jester proclaims, "the mouse has devoured the hawk!"
At the final curtain, we discover that the Princess was unable to sleep because the Jest has placed under the top mattress his lute, a helmet, a large spiked ball, some livestock and some old armour. Of course, all ends happily and the Queen is punished.
MINSTRELS 1 and 2: (Male or Female)
Narrators of the musical. They are assured in their ability to tell the story with authority and confidence. Charismatic, engaging, all- knowing, worldly...They are extremely charming and witty, with a great sense of humor. Actor must be able to sing, enunciate and project Must smoothly segue back and forth from being the narrators (who speaks and sings directly to the audience) to a character in the story interacting with other characters.
PRINCESS #12: (Female)
She is the first Princess that the audience sees who is performing the rounds of tests. Very eager, smart, thinks well on her feet – of course the Prince wants to marry her. Projects and enunciates well. Will also play a role in ensemble
WIZARD AKA CARDAMON (Male or Female)
The Wizard is the Queen’s “advisor” although she brow beats him constantly. Non singing Acting role. Slight of hand magic tricks a plus. If no slight of hand tricks must be willing to learn a few. He/She is an egotistical, ex-performer who directly serves the Queen and longs for the “good old days.” He/She is the Queen’s Henchman and thinks of all the Princess’ tests. The Wizard prides himself/herself in his position and basically obeys all of the Queen’s orders. In addition to being the Queen’s confidante, he/ she is her only friend and therefore the only person she can really talk to. However, he/she, like everyone else in the kingdom, is apprehensive of the Queen and would never have to courage to contradict her.
LADY LARKEN: (Female)
Young and vulnerable Lady Larken is our damsel-in-distress. She's gentle, trusting, and loyal to the love-of-her-life, Sir Harry. She is madly in love with and “engaged” to Sir Harry. (Unable to marry in their own kingdom, they had a priest in a nearby kingdom give them a secret, illegal elopement) Months later, the newlyweds find that they are expecting a baby. Larken personifies innocence. (Think Giselle from Enchanted) Larken is the Queens lady-in-waiting. Singing required. A high energy actress who enunciates and projects well while singing and speaking. Actress not afraid to be over the top
QUEEN AGGRAVAIN: (Female)
The loud, smart, overprotective, stubborn, self centered, dominating woman who is obsessed with her grown son. Married to the King. An excellent actress with the ability to be over the top. Must enunciates and project well; Must have huge stage presence that commands attention; Must be able to talk very fast and clearly during a long monologue. Sings
PRINCE DAUNTLESS THE DRAB: (Male)
The son of Queen Aggravain and King Mutinous the silent. Dauntless is a mama’s boy who meekly gives into his mothers wishes. The prince is very likable but socially immature and childlike. An excellent actor who enunciates and projects well with good comic timing. Excellent physical comedy, actor must not be afraid to go over the top. Singing required
KING MUTIMUS THE SILENT: (Male)
The King is Mute due to a curse placed upon him by a witch before the birth of Dauntless. Silent until just before the finale. An audience favorite, needs pantomime skills. Over the top facial expressions and gestures a must. King communicates his thoughts and feelings through mime. Actor should have excellent comedic timing and enjoy physical comedy and improv. The king does not sing BUT he is in duets and trios through pantomime, which must be performed precisely on music que. He is a kind, expressive, playful, and comedic character who enjoys teasing the Ladies-In-Waiting. He has learned that it is easier just to let the Queen have her own way than to fight her. Integral character with a lot of stage time.
JESTER: (Male or Female)
The court comedian, the jester is bold, intelligent, energetic, a quick- thinker and a cool conniver. He's very loyal to the mute King and has mastered how to communicate with him and interpret the King to others. A high energy actor with good comic timing who excels at physical comedy. Ability to tap dance or do soft shoe is a plus, but not a must. Enunciates and projects well. Singing required
SIR HARRY: (Male)
“The most bold, handsome, and influential knight in the kingdom” - and he knows it. He is desperate to find Dauntless a wife so he & Lady Larken can finally be married legally in their own kingdom. The macho, romantic knight decides to leave the kingdom to search for a princess for Dauntless to marry, in order for him to take Larken as his bride in his own kingdom. Actor with great comedic timing not afraid to be over the top. Singing required
PRINCESS WINNIFRED THE WOEBEGONE :(Female)
A feisty, outspoken, independent, strong and free- thinking princess from the swamp lands. Extensive acting and singing required; most of it while on the move. Must project and enunciate well,have excellent comic timing and be very good at physical comedy. Exemplify the word “energetic." She is courageous and outrageous, but she and the meek Prince Dauntless fall for each other almost immediately. Having grown up in the swamps, she doesn't conduct herself in the formal way the others in the castle do. It is her natural, ingenuous quality that sets her apart from the other Ladies of the kingdom and makes Dauntless fall in love with her. Larger than life and very confident.
NIGHTINGALES OF SAMARKAND: (Male or Female)
The royal nightingales who sings a haunting lullaby to put Winnifred to sleep. Ability to whistle a plus but not required-soprano.
In medieval times, the role of a lady-in-waiting was to assist and attend to women of the noble classes such as the Queen and the Princess. The ladies are noble women themselves, but of lesser rank.
The Ladies sing and dance and have extensive stage time, they are excellent actresses who are committed to their character and stay in the moment. They sing and dance. They enunciate
and project well and react with facial expressions and body language as the story unfolds. Willing to play multiple characters as needed.
The Ladies-in-Waiting and Knights are all waiting for the Prince to get married so that THEY can get married to each other.
Should be a good physical actress – Mabelle changes body language (and costume) from that of a stately Lady-in-Waiting to a flirtatious dance partner for Sir Harry. French accent a plus.
Rowena is the head Lady-in-waiting. She is the epitome of a proper, courtly lady and trains the others to act as she does. She will give the the “look” when their behavior is less than perfect.
Although proper and courtly most of the time she can be excitable and is very down to earth.
A little younger and less disciplined than Rowena and Merrill. She flirts out what she is thinking, lots of energy. Advises Queen on fashion
Must be high energy. Lady Beatrice and her partner, Sir Harold, dance a lively duet and are featured in production number Acrobatics a plus but not required
ADDITIONAL LADIES-IN WAITING TO BE NAMED
Need singers, actors and dancers for additional Ladies roles
Medieval Knights guarded the castle and supported their King. The Knights are brave in battle and are loyal and proper in the court.
Knights sing and dance and have extensive stage time. They must be good actors who stay in character and in the moment. React well with facial expressions and body language. enunciate and project well and carry themselves with pride.
Studley is next in rank under Sir harry. A Queen favorite. He is pompous in the court, but easy going and fun behind the Queens back.
Sir Luce is also stately in court but fun-loving when the Queen isn't looking. He's friends with Sir Studley and Sir Harry.
A courtly Knight when not letting loose on the dance floor.when not letting loose on the dance floor, Sir Harold is a singer and a featured dancer (with Lady Beatrice) during “The Spanish Panic". They dance an energetic duet.
ADDITIONAL KNIGHTS TO BE NAMED
Strong actors who sing and dance
ADDITIONAL ROLES: Require strong Actors who sing and dance