Hans Christian Andersen (1803-75) was a Danish writer whose fairytales have given pleasure to children and adults all around the world. His best-known tales are: “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “The Ugly Duckling,” and “The Red Shoes.”
Last week, the Art Center Theatre of Citrus County had its opening of a three-weekend run through July 31 of “Once Upon a Mattress,” a humorous adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Princess and the Pea,” starring Sharon Vetter as Princess Winnifred, Leah Lloyd-Jones as the Minstrel, John Weil as the Mute King Sextimus, Kaleigh Moran as Lady Larken, James Mosley as Sir Harry, Patrick Erhardt as the Wizard, Kyle Flanagan as the Jester and William Downey as the Jester-in-training.
The ladies-in-waiting were Julie Imborgno, MaryBeth Van Sickle, Ofa Latu, Madison Rose, Lisa Peterson, Kayli Schaak and Suzie Spaight. Also, George Livermore as Sir Studley, Jackson Ryan as Sir Luce, Maribel Aliago as Princess No.12, Malia Latu as Nightingale and Lea St. Marie as the kitchen wench.
The director was Richard Flury and his daughter, Danielle Flury-Downey, was the music director. Members of the orchestra were: pianist Danielle Flury; Terry Winn, flute; Shelly Bednarski, sax and clarinet; Ernie Mazurkiewicz and Don Rowe, trumpet; Frank Brosnius, trombone; and Charles “Ty” Ramsey, drums.
“The Princess and the Pea” was written in 1835 and this adaptation is the story of Princess Winnifred, who challenges Queen Aggravain, who tries to keep her son, Prince Dauntless, from marrying in order for her to rule the kingdom forever.
Amazingly, the play has two acts, each containing a whopping nine scenes each.
Kudos to the costuming crew of D. Flury, Carolyn Flury and the entire cast; the costumes were authentic to the period, detailing was perfected in minute detail.
The play takes place in late March in a medieval castle. “The Overture,” with Danielle on piano, was one of many performances she regularly does with churches, high schools and universities. Directing and accompanying is second nature to her and her talented father, Richard Flury, singer, actor and set designer for over 40 years, with award-winning performances in “Chicago,” Kismet” and “Carousel.”
Bravo! Bravo to the Flury family, artists that touch your heart and soul with each encounter. Audiences love them and so do I!
From my notes, here are my observations of yet another delightful Sunday afternoon with my Art Center Theatre family:
The story was beautifully presented with the words, “Many moons ago,” by the Minstrel, introducing the story we were about to experience with the all-volunteer troupe of dedicated players. There is an opening for a princess and the queen is trying to keep her son from marrying so she can rule forever.
The Wizard is played by Patrick Erhardt, founding member of the Valerie Theatre and artistic director with 40 years of theatrical experience, who shared his talents magnificently.
Sharon Vetter, as Princess Winnifred, lent her talents to the role with voluminous lines to learn and sing, in numerous scenes. The stamina and dedication to her artistic portrayals have garnered many fans through the years. Her sincerity always shines through.
Sandy Mosley, as Queen Aggravain, dominated the stage with her flair for the aggressive nature her character was. She held her own with each encounter, prancing about, and kept the audience guessing what outrageous scheme she would have up her sleeve to surprise the cast and especially us.
Frank Hofstetter, as King Sextimus, stole the show time and again, chasing the chambermaids around. The audience howled with laughter at his antics. He was made for this role.
Choreographer Lisa Peterson was also cast as Lady Mabelle. A former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, she performs regularly with the Tower Stories and the Valerie Players. She expertly was up to the challenge of choreographing the huge cast of 25 characters.
Mirabel Aliago, as Princess No. 12, in her second appearance with the ACT (Art Center Theatre), gave us an appealing sensitivity to her role.
Youthful William Downey, of the Flury family, was the Jester-in-training. The third-grader plays the piano and sings. He perfected his uncanny highjinks to perfection. The audience looked forward to each time he appeared with the other players. He fit right in with all of their pranks!
Jester Kyle Flanagan and Downey were meant for each other. They were a dynamic duo. Flanagan has an uncanny talent with bringing out the best in youthful performers, encouraging and affirming their blossoming talents.
Julie Imborgno (Lady Rowena), in her fourth show with the ACT, gave her character’s portrayal with the sincerity of her profession as a nurse.
Malia Latu, as Nightingale, is a 2019 newcomer to the ACT and perfected her characterization with the sensitivity it needed.
Ofa Latu, as Lady Emily, graduated from her stage production talents to trying out for the Emily role and she was great! Hoping to see you again soon at the ACT performing for us, Ofa.
George Livermore, as Sir Studly, is a loyal volunteer out at the ACT and has appeared in four notable productions with the enthusiasm of his numerous community efforts in enabling youths to reach their potential through his guidance in youth activities. As Sir Studly, he was direct in demeanor, yet caring at heart as he engaged with the cast.
Leah Lloyd-Jones as the Minstrel, in her debut at the ACT, is a teacher and has her passion as a fair-trade business owner who provides opportunities for women in poverty to leave poverty behind through the sale of their handcrafted items. Her minstrel role was uplifting and enjoyable. A tremendously talented minstrel was her forte.
Kaleigh Moran, as Lady Larken, was persistent in her portrayal of her character; emotionally charged when needed, romantically inclined as needed, with a well-rounded grasp of her role as a nine-year performer with the ACT. Applause, applause!
James Mosley played Sir Harry. He is a Citrus High School senior and a member of the All State Men’s Chorus. As Sir Harry, he was quietly attentive to the players he encountered in his role, yet profound when his remarks were needed.
Madison Rose played Lady Luce. She is a Crystal River High School student. Her enthusiastic acting passion and comedic flair blossomed at the ACT. Rose is an asset to the cast.
Jack Ryan was Sir Luce. A high school junior, he is homeschooled and is a talented guitarist. His role carried no speaking lines but his willingness to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse is deeply appreciated by the cast, as well as the audience.
Kayli Schaak played Lady Beatrice. Kayli is an eighth-grader at Citrus Springs Middle School. She is involved in cheerleading, sports, singing, dancing and acting. Sharing her talent while keeping up with her homework took discipline and dedication. Both the cast and the audience are most appreciative of her efforts. As Lady Beatrice, her portrayal was flawless.
Leanne St. Marie was the kitchen wench. She is a native Floridian and a 26-year Army veteran. Leanne was humor personified in her dramatic grasp of her characterization of the wench.
MaryBeth Van Sickle played Lady Merrill. She comes from a musical family and sang in youth and adult church choirs. As Lady Merrill, her portrayal was consistent and “at the ready” when comedy was needed.
Jon Weil played Prince Dauntless. He is a high school teacher and part-time college professor, making his debut at the ACT. As Prince Dauntless, he was perfectly cast and assumed the role with the candor and serious pondering as needed.
Hoping you’ll come alongside the ACT players again. Call the ACT for tickets at 352-746-7607.
Ruth Levins participates in a variety of projects around the community. Let her know about your group’s upcoming activities by writing to P.O. Box 803, Crystal River, FL 34423.