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'Once Upon a Mattress' tells a different kind of fairy tale

The lords and ladies of “Once Upon a Mattress” express their woes about not being able to marry during a performance at The Phipps. The musical follows the familiar fairy tale of a princess and a pea, with a bit of a retelling. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 7
Prince Dauntless, portrayed by Mitchell Bugni, helps Winnifred, played by Brown, prepare for the test his mother the queen will put her through. The tests, which are all but impossible, are to determine if the kingdom has found a real princess worthy of the prince’s hand. 2 / 7
Brown as Winnifred, Madeline Loper as Lady Merrill and Lynn Maiers Paulson as Queen Aggravain drift off under the influence of some sleeping stones in “Once Upon a Mattress.” The queen tries to ensure Winnifred sleeps through the night without feeling the pea in her mattress. 3 / 7
Angela Brown as Princess Winnifred rocks out during the song, “Song of Love” at a performance of “Once Upon a Mattress” at The Phipps. The show runs through March 31. 4 / 7
Queen Aggravain, played by Lynn Maiers Paulson, comes up with a devious plan with help from the wizard, played by Paul Ashwood in “Once Upon a Mattress.” 5 / 7
Princess Winnifred, played by Angela Brown, arrives at the kingdom for the first time after traveling from her swamp home. 6 / 7
Sara Kessler as the minstrel, Tom Monn as King Sextimus and Jon Aton as the jester sing along as a trio in “Once Upon a Mattress.” 7 / 7

HUDSON — In a far off kingdom, there is a castle full of ladies-in-waiting, and waiting and waiting, for the prince to marry, so they can as well.

In The Phipps' production of "Once Upon a Mattress" the subjects of a royal kingdom cannot marry until their prince does, but the queen is making that difficult. With each prospective princess, the queen concocts a new impossible test, leaving the prince, and his people, single against their wishes.

The musical is a humorous retelling of the fairy tale, where a princess passes the queen's test by feeling a pea under her mattress.

In this version, the princess is not exactly the elegant kind found in fairy tales, coming from a swamp and going by her nickname - Fred.

Angela Brown brings Princess (Winni)Fred to life, with all the energy and quirkiness the character calls for. With her own gumption and help from the smitten Prince Dauntless, played by Mitchell Bugni, she prepares to take on the test, as the other castle occupants eagerly watch, and interfere.

Bugni brings to life the understated and underspoken Dauntless, who often defers to his mother Queen Aggravain, played by Lynn Maiers Paulson. His silent father King Sextimus is portrayed by Tom Monn. The three actors prompt plenty of laughs with their portrayal of the dysfunctional royal family.

Perhaps one of the best parts of "Once Upon a Mattress" is its supporting cast. The lords and ladies are portrayed by a crew of actors who bring humor as they take on the exasperated characters.

While the main action unfolds between the royals, the members of the court weave their way through their owns stories. Whether it's the trials of love or the remembrance of a parent, each of their stories brings a sincerity and intricacy to the play. The final resolution, even, comes down to them. They include Darcy and Bruce Bell-Myers as the complicated in love Lady Larkin and Sir Harry, the supportive jester played by Jon Aton and the minstrel played by Sara Kessler.

It all unfolds on a beautifully-crafted intricate set, a grand castle that moves and changes with the story.

"Once Upon a Mattress" runs through March 31 with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $27, and can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at 715-386-8409.

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

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