Will Prince Dauntless ever find a genuine princess to marry? Can Princess "Fred" Winnifred prove that she fits the bill? Washington-Lee High School's production of "Once Upon a Mattress" was an example of the fun that comes from mixing a timeless tale with creativity and spunk.

"Once Upon a Mattress" is the 1959 musical update of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale "The Princess and the Pea." The Broadway version has been revived numerous times on stage and television.

In Washington-Lee's production of the classic, Mario Samayoa as Dauntless played the stuttering, childlike prince with boyish charm, and Elizabeth Tedder as Winnifred lit up her scenes with abundant enthusiasm.

Among the other portrayals in this fine cast, Allison Hunn's overbearing Queen Aggravain, who does everything in her power to ensure that no girl ever passes her princess tests, was entertaining and zany. The role called for a lot of ad-libbing, and Hunn pulled it off, delivering several side-splitting lines and proving that villains can be the most likable characters.

Zack Bowman had the difficult task of playing the mute but womanizing King Sextimus the Silent. He executed the role with flair and graceful pratfalls. In his duet with Samayoa, Zack tried to mime the tale of the birds and the bees to his bewildered son, with amusing results.

Although it was sometimes hard to understand the lyrics, the ensemble was consistently lively and reacted to one another, whether for fear of the queen or adoration of Winnifred.

Maria Raffaele's set consisted of a beautiful castle throne room, whose centerpiece was Winnifred's 20-mattress bed. Joan Cummins, Lexy Roy and Erica Blankenship designed the colorful flowing dresses and rich-hued doublets. The queen's bubble gum-pink wig (coifed by Margaret Soderholm) was reminiscent of Marge Simpson. Emily Yancey and Courtney Anderson's choreography included some funky dances.

Washington-Lee's "Once Upon a Mattress" was a joy to watch and a fitting rendition of such a time-honored musical.

Alexandra Staeben

H-B Woodlawn High School

What do you get when you combine a mute king, a chatterbox and plotting queen, a moat-swimming princess and an incompetent prince? You get Washington-Lee High School's charming rendition of "Once Upon a Mattress."

The musical is a spinoff of "The Princess and the Pea." It is filled with quirky and unforgettable characters who help tell of how the prince truly found his true princess. Queen Aggravain (Allison Hunn) does everything in her power to make sure that no woman is good enough for her only son, Prince Dauntless (Mario Samayoa). After a 12th princess fails the queen's ridiculously hard test, the kingdom is once again in search for a suitable "real" princess. Sir Harry goes off in search of a new princess and comes back with Princess Winnifred (Elizabeth Tedder). Winnifred is nothing like what the Queen expects for her son, so she comes up with a devious plan to get rid of her. Hunn played the role with energy and charisma, and was adept at the character's witty remarks and eccentric gestures.

The costumes were captivating, right out of a fairy tale. The makeup was well-crafted, and Hunn's vibrant wig was great fun. Samayoa's wig also added humor and a sense of personality to his character.

It was difficult to understand some of the performers when they spoke quickly. Samayoa did a remarkable job portraying the adorably slow prince -- his expressions were humorous and gave his character a distinct quality. Tedder was a joy to watch, unpredictable and attention-grabbing, from her larger-than-life gestures to her diving off the stage into a moat.

The ensemble numbers were energetic and exciting; every performer stayed in character, even when not showcased.

"Once Upon a Mattress" showed that the best kind of fairy tale is one full of quirky characters and side-splitting humor.

Trisha Williams

Centreville High School