With director Lauren Scarfe at the helm and MD Katie Parker weaving an excellent musical platform the Marie Clark Musical Theatre has done it again! “Once Upon a Mattress” is light, whimsical and great fun.
Aled Proeve sets the scene as the Minstrel both true and clear of voice providing in his opening preamble the background to this little fable. Lovers Lady Larkin (Brooke Washusen) and Sir Harry (Chris Bierton) complement each other beautifully throughout with individual characterisation and pleasing vocals particularly in the duet “In a little While”. Hopefully they will be allowed to wed before the baby arrives! William Peake is a convincing, delightfully gormless Prince Dauntless with a liking for strong women. He is controlled completely by his mummy Lucy Trewin as the Queen. Aggravain by name and “aggravain” by nature she dominates the stage and her son. Both actors are blessed with voices true to pitch and volume. The Queen’s rendition of “Sensitivity” with her Wizard (Devinder Singh Khalsa) is clear and powerful.
Claire Birbeck is a perky Court Jester buzzing about the stage aiding and abetting the narrative. King Sextimus (John Lanigan-O’Keeffe) constantly seeks her advice in a fruitless attempt to live up to his name! He has been struck dumb by a spell and left bound to communicate in sign and charade.
Emily-Jo Davidson as Princess “Fred” who has escaped from the swamp pretty much steals the show. Her boundless energy and comic approach coupled with great timing is a joy to behold. Her working of the song “Shy” is a knockout. She literally owns the stage, using it wonderfully well. Her complete involvement in her role is palpable.
That also applies to the entire cast. Ensemble work of the Lords and Ladies of the Court provide a solid chorus complement to the piece as a whole. Choreography by Vanessa Redmond is simple and effective. I liked the not so frenetic “Spanish Panic” in particular. Costuming by Narelle Lee and her team is splendid, colourfully fitting to this fairy-like tale.
All in all it is great fun and the enthusiastic audience responded accordingly. The Marie Clark Mob have indeed and in music done it again.