Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Once Upon A Matress"

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note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Beverly Creasey

"It's A Mad, Mad,
Mad, Mad "Matress"

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

Once upon a time there was a sweet, but dated musical, called "Once Upon A Matress" which made carol Burnett a star. What if you bombarded that charming little musical with every --- and I do mean every --- pop culture joke you could wring from the script? You'd get the Turtle Lane Playhouse's wacky, off the wall, very contemporary production of the 1959 Mary Rogers musical.

Director Jerry Bisantz obviously belongs to the "shock and awe" school of comedy. No sooner do you recover from one hilarious reference, than you're hit with the next shameless allusion: from the Weakest Link Lady to Artie Johnson's Little Old Man; from a 1939 Oscar winner to this year's best movie; from Steve Martin to Phyllis Diller; Sid Caesar to Red Skelton. You'll be reeling from the possibilities an innocent line could reveal. Nothing is sacred in the mattresscidal mayhem.

Even if TLP's production didn't emulate the Zucker Brothers' "Airplane" spoofs, it would succeed on performance level alone. Perri Chouteau gives a tour de force portrayal of the exceedingly UNshy Princess who is so exquisitely sensitive she can feel a pea under thirty matresses. Chouteau makes insomnia so delightful you'll be sorry you've been sleeping soundly.

Susan Walsh makes the mean queen mother deliciously imperious and Chuck Walsh is almost unrecognizable as her conspirator, a devious ancient wizard. Charlie Borden's madcap choreography keeps the jaunty chorus hopping in Ronald L. Dion's nifty 15th century castle lit by Jeff Gardiner's pure fairy tale haze.

Everyone, from Jim Jordan's odd-duck Prince to Eric Ruben's zany, silent King, from Michael Parsons' dashing minstrel to Joseph Cullinane's fleet-footed Fool --- not to mention Anita Brockney's chickadee -- conspire to keep you in stitches. Even Richard Itczak's costumes are wonderfully silly.

Don't get caught napping and miss this one...

"Once Upon A Matress" (25 April - 1 June)
283 Melrose Street, NEWTON MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


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