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Director of 'Once Upon a Mattress' promises it's a family show

Cheri Hamilton hesitates when trying to explain an unexpected reaction to directing "Once Upon a Mattress."

Apparently, people misconstrue the title as a "dirty play."

"I was getting kind of strange looks," Hamilton said with a laugh. "It's been interesting."

In fact, the upcoming Area Community Theatre production, which opens this weekend, is a musical take on the fairy-tale classic "The Princess and the Pea."

"It's a family show," Hamilton said. "It's something you can bring your grandchildren to."

Set to live piano music, the light-hearted comedy follows the trials of Prince Dauntless, an unhappy bachelor whose scheming mother, Queen Aggravain, has made it her mission in life to prevent her son from ever marrying by subjecting any interested princess to a litany of unpassable tests.

"The tests are just so hard, that none of them ever pass," Hamilton said.

When the lovely, and unconventional, Princess Winnifred arrives, she works at winning over the hearts of the kingdom, and passing the queen's tests. Outlandish side characters include a jester, a minstrel and a king who can't speak.

"Actually I think he has the best part in the whole play," Hamilton said. "It's just a riot, the whole play is."

"Once Upon a Mattress" opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and will show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and May 10-11, and at 2 p.m. Sunday and May 12. Tickets are $12 or $14, depending on seats.

Cast list

Queen Aggravain -- Karen Harrington

Princess Winnifred -- Brooke Pejsa

Prince Dauntless -- Jack Mitchell

Minstrel -- Chris Lippert

Wizard -- A.J. Bierman

Lady Larken -- Elsa Tapio

Sir Harry -- Paul Mah

King Sextimus the Silent -- Kim Lorenzen

Jester -- Twyla Mah

Sir Studley/Harold -- Joe Pejsa

Sir Luce -- Kyle Stas

First Lady-in-Waiting -- Cat Erickson

Second Lady-in-Waiting, Rowena -- Kathie Freeman

Third Lady-in-Waiting/Beatrice/Lady Merrill -- Theresa Campbell

Lady Lucille -- Brandy Bambas

Lady Mabelle/Lady-in-Waiting -- Megann Davis

Princess No. 12/Lady-in-Waiting -- Sarah Moore

Knight No. 1 -- Tom Miller

Knight No. 2 -- Kevin Ries

Knight No. 3 -- Jim Hamilton

Knight -- Bill Hamilton

Nightingale/Serving Wench -- Calli Mah

Lady-in-Waiting -- Erica Fett

Lady-in-Waiting -- Maggie Smith

Director -- Cheri Hamilton

Pianist -- Karleen Jung