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The mattresses are piled high this fall at the Douglas Morrison Theatre classic production of ONCE UPON A MATTRESS. DMT opens their 2018 - 2019 new season with this Hans Christian Andersen’s tale about a princess who proved her pedigree by feeling a tiny pea beneath a stack of 20 downy mattresses. DMT debunks this fun fairytale with satirical glee, offering up an off-the-wall rendition of Mary Rodgers of this fractured fairy tale. Directed by the creative John Malo, this tale presents a post war take on the classic story. Malo says, “Our production adds a modern spin, transforming the story again to represent our own time, a very different place than the world of almost 60 years ago.”

Award winning set designer Brian Watson sets the stage with fun touches to amuse the eye. Painted stonewalls, prophetic arches, staircases, towers and a two-level Castle surround the Douglas Morrison stage. Maio has cast a lively troop of actors who clearly revel in slaying the fairytale stereotypes with clever music and parody.

The accomplished Nick Sears is the virgin Prince Dauntless who shows off his keen voice in “An Opening for a Prince”. Sear’s daft and dizzy “Dauntless the Drab” belies that nickname, as one of the brightest and fun to watch, his timing and delivery are spot-on. The handsome Matt Skinner plays Sir Harry who is in constant search for a new princess and sings “In a Little While” with the beautiful enthusiastic Erin Reis who is elegant as Lady Larkin. Skinner spins sharply with silly foolhardiness as the self-loving knight, which is a great contrast to Reis’ loving and sweet-tempered nature.

The superb Mark Enea opens the tale with the song “Many Moons Ago” and later his voice soars in “Normandy”. The powerhouse humor of Megan Bartlett steals the stage as Princess Winnifred, a role originated in 1959 by Carol Burnett. She delivers a no-holds-barred performance that keeps the laughter rolling with full-body comedy, outrageous antics and vocals that are wonderfully over the top on “Shy” and “Song of Love,” a duet with Sear’s Dauntless. Megan is a charmer as the big-hearted, panic-dancing moat-swimmer, although Dauntless and Winnifred are an unlikely a couple, and you root for them.

The excellent Greg Lynch is the wizard, sporting the perfect magic sorting hat, making any Harry Potter fan smile. The witty Jim Rupp as the comic Jester and local favorite Michael Sally as the speechless King Sextimus are just hilarious to watch. Both have great slapstick-like timing when sharing the stage. Enea, Rupp and Sally are splendid in the number “The Minstrel, The Jester and I” which is well choreographed by Todd Aragon. Sally as the mute King was in perfect comic timing at opening night. He is amusing to watch as he fights off the witch’s family curse. Sally pantomimes his lyrics while the Minstrel and Jester sing. Rupp delivered a standout performance in song and solo dance “Very Soft Shoes,” recalling the days of Vaudeville.

The terrific Alicia von Kugelgen rounds out the cast as Dauntless’ domineering mother, Queen Aggravain. Kugelgen is so annoyingly delicious as the villain. She is practically a monster-in-law to be, especially when trialing different princesses that are suitable for Dauntless. Kugelgen joins Lynch the Wizard as they are both humorous while singing “Sensitivity.” In addition, she opens the second act with a rousing company number that includes Trixie Aball, Zoey Bothwell Mitlitsky, Christina Bucey, Kaliah Cayou, Rebecca and Clinton Coats Maldoon, Carl Smith, Heather Warren, Riley Hyde and the likeable John Real.

The madcap production features a 19-song score under the music direction of Cary Litchford and his 10 member orchestra pit. The sound design by Paul Jameson and Maio was a even mix with the strong chorus. The cast delivers the songs with comic flair. “Nightingale Lullaby” is a show highlight, featuring the ensemble in a high-energy dance that captured the audience's attention.

Assistant director Katina Letheule and stage manager Christian Tanton kept the 20 member cast on cue and moving on and off the two story “Once upon a time” kingdom. Lighting designer Allen Willner keeps the set bright, yet when Dauntless drifts into the audience to avoid his mother - he gets lost without a follow spot to locate him. Costumes by Daisy Neske and Kaleo Diego are colorful on the girls, yet they are bulkie on the kingdom guards, and over the top on the featured cast. Best looking were the Wizard, Minstrel and the Jester, the patterns on Lady Larken and the Queen are too busy. Watson's set is an eyecandy Kingdom, and his bright piled high bunk of Mattress's looks colorful and comfy. Props by Mary Jo Price and Larry Jeane include all the Jesters jingles and jewelry that sparkles.

ONCE UPON A MATTRESS hits smart silly moments throughout the two act story nicely; you can virtually hear the rim shots. It’s light and laughable, easy to follow, and an entertaining charming prince & princess tale. Next up at the DMT is a new play by Reg Clay 4 MEN IN PARIS a co-production with Plethos Productions opens Oct 12th. In the spring of 2019 Eugene O’Neill’s AH, WILDERNESS opens in February 2019. But in the meantime bring your own “pea” to add to the Princess 20 stacked mattress’

Douglas Morrisson Theatre SEASON 2018-2019




Book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller and Marshall Barer

Music by Mary Rodgers Lyrics by Marshall Barer

Directed by John Maio

Only Through September 30, 2018

Douglas Morrisson Theatre,

22311 N. Third St. in Hayward, CA

Two hours with one intermission

Tickets are $15-$29, and are available

through the Box Office at (510) 881-6777

or online at

Photos by Terry Sullivan


Trixie Aballa, Megan Bartlett, Zoey Bothwell-Mitlitsky, Christian Bucey, Kailah Cayou, Clinton Coates-Maldoon, Rebecca Coates-Maldoon, Mark Enea, Riley Hyde, Gregory Lynch, John Real, Erin Reis, Jim Rupp, Michael Sally, Nick Sears, Matt Skinner, Carl Smith, Alicia von Kugelgen, Heather Warren

Discounts available for adults under the age of 30 and over the age of 60, students with ID, youth, H.A.R.D. residents, and groups of 10 or more.

BOX OFFICE (510) 881-6777

ABOUT THE DOUGLAS MORRISSON THEATRE The Douglas Morrisson Theatre (DMT) is a program and facility of the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District. ​First named “The Little Theatre” at its dedication in November of 1978, DMT officially opened its doors in January of 1979 with a production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, ​The King and I . DMT operated under The Little Theatre name until 2003. ​In addition to a full season of plays and musicals, ​DMT produces three annual concerts by the Morrisson Theatre Chorus. In the summer, children ages 7 to 15 participate in one- and two-week theater camps.

DMT is located at 22311 N. Third St. in Hayward, next to the Senior Center and the Japanese Gardens. The Box Office is open Tuesday through Friday, 1:00pm to 5:00pm, and can be reached at (510) 881-6777. Visit ​​ for more information.

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