WALTON — Barbra Burch played Queen Aggravain in Lewis Cass High School’s 1985 production of “Once Upon a Mattress.” Twenty-nine years later, she is directing the musical at the school.
”It’s kind of surreal,” she said. “There are some things that take me right back.”
Burch said she has been remembering people she hasn’t thought about in almost three decades and discussing with an old high school drama friend how they put on the play compared to the way this year’s students are preparing to do it this Friday and Saturday.
”It’s fun to see how different people have different ideas on how characters should be played,” she said.
This weekend, the stage of the Lewis Cass Jr.-Sr. High School auditorium will be decked in backgrounds depicting the stone walls of a castle and occupied by tune-carrying, sword-wielding and crown-clad royalty. Mixing “The Princess and the Pea” fairy tale with heavy doses of music and comedy, “Once Upon a Mattress” tells the story of a queen who declares no one shall marry until her son marries before sabotaging every chance he gets to take a woman’s hand. Her schemes prove successful until a princess from a swamp kingdom comes along and changes everything.
Jade Munsey, a junior, plays Queen Aggravain, who loudly snaps at the other characters onstage as she plots ways to ensure her son does not wed.
”She’s kind of ... a bad word,” Munsey said with a laugh, going on to joke that she gets into character by yelling at her friends. “She wants to rule over everything. She doesn’t like it when people go behind her back and people are doing it constantly. I think that’s why she’s so angry all the time.”
Munsey described her character as an actor rehearsed one of the play’s numbers as a rap song onstage. Mary Rodgers, Marshall Barer, Jay Thompson and Dean Fuller weren’t the only ones to take artistic liberties with Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. The production at Lewis Cass Jr./Sr. High School this weekend is full of the students’ personal touches, including the playing of modern music during several dance numbers, beat-boxing and references to school and Cass County.