The Story
Once Upon A Mattress
Music
MARY ROGERS

Lyrics
MARSHALL BARER

Book
JAY THOMPSON, MARSHALL BARER & DEAN FULLER
This musical was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's The Princess and the Pea, but any close resemblance between the two is almost coincidental. The action takes place in 1428 where the royal law says no one may marry until Prince Dauntless takes a wife. Queen Aggravain insists that the bride be a "genuine" princess and has devised countless tests to "protect" her beloved son. The tests are outrageous, to say the least. With hope fading fast, Sir Harry sets out from court in search of yet another princess, because his own love Lady Larken is already in a family way. He finds Winnifred the Woebegone, who comes from a swampy kingdom. Winnifred's unconventional behavior gives the queen the idea of using a test of sensitivity to eliminate her from the marriage sweepstakes. The plan seems foolproof. How could anyone go through all that and still be troubled by a tiny pea placed under twenty thick mattresses?

PHOTOS
1996 Broadway Revival
Artworks/ Posters

VIDEOS
Sarah Jessica Parker leads the 1996 Broadway revival cast in a performance of 'Shy' at the Tony Awards.

MUSIC
Shy
Sarah Jessica Parker
1996 Broadway Cast Recording

THE STORY

SYNOPSIS

Once Upon a Mattress takes place in a fictional medieval kingdom ruled by the devious Queen Aggravaine and the mute King Sextimus the Silent. King Sextimus suffers from a curse that can only be reversed "when the mouse devours the hawk." As the show opens, the populace of the castle complains about an unjust law levied by Queen Aggravaine. She is testing Princess #12; to the queen's delight, the princess misses the last question ("What was the middle name of the daughter-in-law of the best friend of the blacksmith who forged the sword that killed the beast [the dragon killed by St. George]?") and is given a dead bird. The law states that no one may wed until the Prince, Dauntless the Drab, first marries ("throughout the land no one may wed, 'till Dauntless to the altar's led") . However, every petitioning princess is sent away after failing an unfair test devised by the Queen. It seems that no one is good enough to marry Prince Dauntless.

The crisis escalates when the leading knight of the realm, Sir Harry, discovers that his girlfriend, Lady Larken, is pregnant. Facing great embarrassment and loss of his station, Sir Harry embarks on a quest to find the last princess in the realm. He soon returns with Princess Winnifred the Woebegone, a brash, unrefined, and muscular princess from the marshlands. She immediately charms Dauntless and most of the townspeople. However, she also succeeds in offending the Queen, who vows to find a way to stop her.

The Queen, assisted by her Wizard sidekick, quickly designs Winnifred's secret "test." They will place a tiny pea beneath twenty thick downy mattresses. If Winnifred is unable to sleep due to the pea, then she will be sensitive enough to marry Dauntless.

As the day of the test approaches, Dauntless and Winnifred fall in love, Harry and Larken break up (only to be later united by Winnifred), and the King, Jester and Minstrel trick the Wizard into telling them of the test. When she finally takes the test, Winnifred cannot fall asleep. She drowsily confronts the Queen the next morning, but Aggravaine insists that the test was rigged. Dauntless tells Aggravaine to "shut up," and the curse on King Sextimus is lifted (the "mouse," or Dauntless, thus devours the "hawk," or Aggravaine). Aggravaine discovers that she cannot talk, and Dauntless and Winnifred are free to be married. The Wizard falls for the King's charm and wit, and leaves the poor Queen hopelessly hopping and skipping on stage.

In the final seconds of the play, the real reason why Winnifred passed the test is revealed. After learning about the test, the King, Minstrel, and Jester stuffed the mattresses full of weapons, jousting equipment, and other sharp items. All the items are removed by the Jester in the Finale. After the items are removed Winnifred still has trouble sleeping until Dauntless takes the pea out from under the mattress, when she then falls asleep almost immediately. Everyone, in classic fairy-tale tradition, lives happily ever after.

LIBRETTO

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Once Upon A Mattress lyrics
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CAST & CREATIVES
Creative
Producer DODGER THEATRICALS & JOOP VAN DEN ENDE
Direction GERALS GUTIERREZ
Musical Staging LIZA GENNARO
Orchestrations BRUCE COUGHLIN
Scenic Design JOHN LEE BEATTY
Costume Design JANE GREENWOOD
Lighting Design PAT COLLINS
Sound Design TOM MORSE
Cast
Princess Winnifred SARAH JESSICA PARKER
Prince Dauntless DAVID AARON BAKER
Queen Aggravain MARY LOU ROSATO
Lady Larken JANE KRAKOWSKI
Sir Harry LEWIS CLEALE
Creative
Producer T. EDWARD HAMBLETON, NORRIS HOUGHTON, WILLIAM & JEAN ECKART
Direction GEORGE ABBOTT
Musical Staging JOE LAYTON
Orchestrations HERSHY KAY, ARTHUR BECK, CAROL HUXLEY
Scenic Design WILLIAM & JEAN ECKART
Costume Design WILLIAM & JEAN ECKART
Lighting Design THARON MUSSER
Cast
Princess Winnifred CAROL BURNETT
Prince Dauntless JOE BOVA
Queen Aggravain JANE WHITE
Lady Larken ANNE JONES
Sir Harry DAN RESIN
MUSICAL NUMBERS
ACT ONE

Many Moons AgoMinstrel and Players
An Opening for a PrincessPrince Dauntless, Lady Larken, Knights and Ladies
In a Little WhileLady Larken and Sir Harry
ShyPrincess Winnifred and Knights
The Minstrel, The Jester and IThe King Sextimus, Minstrel and Jester
SensitivityThe Queen Aggravain
Swamps of HomePrincess Winnifred, Prince Dauntless and Ladies
NormandyMinstrel, Jester, The King Sextimus and Lady Larken
Spanish PanicThe Queen Aggravain, Princess Winnifred, Prince Dauntless, Knights and Ladies
Song of LovePrince Dauntless, Princess Winnifred, Knights and Ladies


ACT TWO

QuietEntire Court
Goodnight, Sweet PrincessPrince Dauntless
Happily Ever AfterPrincess Winnifred
Man to Man TalkThe King Sextimus and Prince Dauntless
Very Soft ShoesJester
Yesterday I Loved YouSir Harry and Lady Larken
LullabyThe Nightingale of Samarkand
FinaleEntire Court

Barnum
Nobody Loves You
The Addams Family
SIGHTS & SOUNDS

1996 Broadway Production
Artworks/ Posters

Sarah Jessica Parker leads the 1996 Broadway revival cast in a performance of 'Shy' at the Tony Awards.

Happily Ever After Carol Burnett Original Broadway Cast Recording
Shy Sarah Jessica Parker 1996 Broadway Cast Recording

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