The Highly Anticipated Musical, Once Upon a Mattress, Hits The Stage This Thursday Night


“Once Upon a Mattress”, this year’s musical, will premiere on Thursday, Feb. 2, at 7:30 pm. and run all the way through Saturday, Feb. 4, in the school’s auditorium. Cast members, stage crew and the live orchestra accompanying it have all been diligently rehearsing for the opening night. In spite of their constant hard work, the cast still manages to have a great time while rehearsing. Seniors Mariah Martinez and Aaron Hinojosa, and sophomore Jennifer Tafolla shared inside details on their characters, the cast, and what it’s like to perform in a musical for the very first time, and some for their very last.

The fairy tale focuses on Queen Aggravain’s attempt to keep her son, Prince Dauntless single. The queen has decreed that only the princess that can pass her test may marry her son. In addition to this rule, she also demands that no one else in the kingdom may marry until Prince Dauntless does. Lady Larken and Sir Harry are extremely concerned by this fact since Lady Larken is now pregnant with Sir Harry’s baby. Fortunately, Sir Harry is able to find an amazing princess, Winnifred the Woebegone, who instantly catches the attention of Prince Dauntless. The only problem Winnifred and Dauntless are facing is whether the princess will be able to pass the queen’s test.

“She’s a very lively and flamboyant character. She’ll always do the unexpected, and she’s very determined to get what she wants,” Mariah Martinez said. She will be playing the role as princess Winnifred in the musical. “She likes Dauntless a lot, and she just really wants to be a part of something. She always brings a little piece of home with her. She’s very much of a homebody, but she doesn’t mind taking new risks.”

Aaron Hinojosa said his character, Prince Dauntless, “is essentially a 30-year-old momma’s boy who doesn’t know anything about the real world outside the kingdom. He is very childish, you’d think he has a spirit of a 10-year-old boy. [He’s] very innocent, very happy and playful all the time.”

Jennifer Tafolla, who will play Lady Larken, explained that her character “has some bad mood swings” as a result of her current pregnant state. “People know she’s pregnant, but she’s not suppose to be pregnant because this boy [Prince Dauntless] hasn’t married yet. With my character I can’t just be happy the whole time, I have to be happy then all of a sudden be angry. She does ‘the most!'”

When the three actors were asked what other character in the musical they would want to portray, immediately Tafolla and Hinojosa answered with “Princess Winnifred!” Tafolla loves Winnifred’s vocals, and Martinez said, “If I could gender bend, I would totally be the king. He’s hilarious!”

Both Hinojosa and Martinez agreed that Spanish Panic had to be their preferred dance number even though it is one of the most rigorous and tiring ones but nevertheless really fun.

Tafolla mentions her favorite part in the musical is “When me and Harry scream at each other,” She jokingly says.

After Lady Larkin’s first encounter with Princess Winnifred, who she mistakenly thought of as her peasant, she and Sir Harry get into a “big ol’ fight!” as described by Martinez.

Bringing a character to life in a live performance can have its challenges, but the cast has learned to find a relatable aspect to their characters even though some are quite different from their actual personalities. “A lot of people think that acting is just [relying] on solely the script, but in actuality you have to embody/think of the character,” explained Martinez. “You have to think of what you’re doing before you get on there, you have to really dive deep into your character and really look for something that relates to you.”

A cast member who definitely mirrors their character according to Martinez, Hinojosa and Tafolla is Sir Harry who is played by Eddy Reyes.

“He thinks he’s all that when he really isn’t!” Tafolla emphasizes.

“All that and a bag of chips! That’s what he thinks he is!” Martinez said.

On the other hand, Hinojosa believes that Sarah Meyers, who plays the role of Queen Aggravain, is nothing like the stern, strict character that she portrays on stage. “She’s not like evil,” he says about Meyers.

Martinez and Tafolla agreed.

“She’s so giggly!” Said Tafolla.

Martinez is impressed by what Meyers brings to the characterization of the queen. “She’s just a natural born actor. She’s really good,” Martinez stated.

With only one week left before the opening night, all three members definitely feel more excitement rather than nervousness. Tafolla feels that she has more freedom to express herself in “Once Upon a Mattress” than she could while playing in the first-semester musical, “Spelling Bee.” “I was the adult in [Spelling Bee]. I have more liberty in this one, and I’m really feeling it.”

“I’m just excited for people to see me in a way they haven’t seen me before because no one’s ever really seen me on stage.” Explained Hinojosa, who will be performing in a musical as a lead for the very first time.

“This is Aarons debut!” Martinez says in pure excitement.

“Yeah, this is going to be his show!” Tafolla adds.

Even though the cast has put aside their anxious feelings, Martinez believes that the second day of the musical will consist of good nerves going around stage, an anticipation to preform extremely well for the Tommy Tune judges. The Tommy Tune Awards acknowledge and reward excellence in high school musical theatre created by students and educators around the Houston area. “They judge pretty fair but since we’re in big competition with all these big schools, I know we have the capability of being nominated for anything.”

The three actors do have pre-show routines to help them focus and settle their nerves. Hinojosa said that Martinez likes to practice napping for her two-second napping scene that’s in the musical. Meanwhile, Tafolla jokingly said she cries before she heads on stage.

With a few more daily, long rehearsals, the cast almost believes that they live at school. “I might as well bring some clothes because I don’t leave,” Tafolla said. “I get home and sleep like that’s the only purpose I have at home. [It’s like I] have two families.”

The three cast members did not forget to mention the hard work the understudies have also had to endure during practices. Princess Winnifred’s understudy has been following along rather well, making Martinez feel happy about the future of the school’s theater/choir members.

“That’s what’s going to make me leave here feeling really good, that we have great [members] coming after us.” Said Martinez. “Slowly making up our fine arts department has just risen and not only are we getting recognition for it but we have made improvements.”

After a long four months of memorizing lines and dances, preparing the stage, rehearsing choir and full orchestra music, and making detailed costume designs, the “Once Upon a Mattress” musical will open its doors to the public on Feb. 2 at 7:00 pm.

“It’s a community thing I think that’s what we want people to realize that kids who may not have as much money as other schools, that may not have the best support, not only do they come together to do something fantastic but it shows that we are just as much creative and talented as anyone else, if not more because we have so much hard work and dedication,” Martinez explains.

“Come see us” said Hinojosa. “I’m very excited for this.”