Once Upon A Mattress

Once Upon A Mattress is a musical comedy with music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer and book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Marshall Barer. The play was written as an adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Princess and the Pea.

The original production opened on May 11, 1959 at the off-Broadway Phoenix Theatre, transferred later in the year to Broadway at the Alvin Theatre (now known as the Neil Simon Theatre) and then to several other Broadway theaters, finally playing at the St. James Theatre for a total run of 460 performances.

The musical was directed by George Abbott and choreographed by Joe Layton. Once Upon A Mattress marked the Broadway debut of later stage and TV legend Carol Burnett, who originated the role of Princess Winnifred.

Due to an unhappy curse, King Sextimus is unable to speak. Meanwhile, his terror of a wife, Queen Aggravian, has taken over control of the kingdom. Most importantly, in an attempt to keep Prince Dauntless single, she has decreed that only the princess that can pass her test may marry her son. Further, no one else in the kingdom may marry until Prince Dauntless does. Lady Larken and Sir Harry are extremely disturbed by this fact since Lady Larken is now pregnant with Sir Harry’s baby. Luckily, Sir Harry is able to find an amazing princess, Winnifred the Woebegone. She instantly catches the attention of Prince Dauntless, and in the end, is able to pass the Queen’s impassable sensitivity test. When the Queen still tries to prevent the Prince Dauntless from marrying, he tells her to ‘shut up’ which ends up breaking the curse on the king. Now able to speak, King Sextimus regains his rightful position as leader of the kingdom, and all is well.

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