Alyssa Tyler editor in chief
The Pittsburg State University Theater is pulling back the curtain to present their first musical in four years with the show, “Once Upon a Mattress.” It’s a musical retelling of the Princess and the Pea.
“It’s about a young prince dauntless who is an atypical prince in a fairy tale. He’s not strong, swaggering, savior to the women. He’s kind of lost in his life. His mother is very overbearing and wants him to get married but really doesn’t want him to get married because then he’ll leave, and she’ll be left alone. So, she sabotages all of the efforts of him trying to find a bride, she wants a perfect princess that does not exist. So, but no one else can marry until her son can marry. So, all of the kingdom is like ‘we need to find the right princesses, so they search far and wide. And the musical opens with the 12th princess being tested. So, she develops these crazy tests, spelling, reading, quizzes, that she knows they’re not going to be able to pass,” said Megan Westhoff, assistant professor and director of the musical. “And so, they find Princess Winifred, the woebegone, in a far-off swamp. And she is not your typical fairy tale princess, she is not waiting for a man to save her. She is unashamed of herself, and sticks out, and is not trying to fit in. And I think that’s an important lesson to everybody that you be yourself and your place and not fit in with what society tells you, or what your parents tell you. So, she comes and falls in love, and so it’s the story of how she’s being tested.”
Westhoff performed this musical with the scene designer years before this.
“I always loved it because it’s not the typical fairy tale, but I love fairy tales and I love make believe. So, this is great because there is a lot of magic but also a lot of wisdom throughout the story. And I love the music, it’s very catchy, and there are a lot of great songs in it. The characters are really well developed. It’s a great one, and I thought it would be a great opener for this year,” Westhoff said.
Some of the actors had to step into roles that weren’t like themselves
Auditions were open to any student regardless of their major. Auditions consisted of dancing, singing, and reading from the script.
“I just hope they have a good time. The thing I love about theater is people together in a room and enjoying the same story at the same time. And getting to see live performers breathing right in front of them and I think the thing I took for granted with COVID was the importance of being around other people and socializing. And I think we missed that especially in theater, and I just loved that it’s a great story that everyone can kind of connect to in a different way. Everyone has had the feeling at some point that they are outcasts or what is my purpose in life? So, it’s a fun way to explore that and you can love it at any age. Little kids love it at one level, and adults love it at a different level. So, I like that, it doesn’t talk down to audiences, it talks wherever you’re at, as far as your age and your wisdom,” Westhoff said.