Manistee students to present ‘Once Upon a Mattress’

MANISTEE — When Amanda Feyen took over the drama department at Manistee Middle/High school last year, she had three objectives in mind.

One of the many fun scenes in 'Once Upon A Mattress' is this scene where Chloe Pepera as Princess Winnifred jumps into the arms of the knights.

One of the many fun scenes in ‘Once Upon A Mattress’ is this scene where Chloe Pepera as Princess Winnifred jumps into the arms of the knights.

The first was to bring quality performances to the stage of the Manistee Middle/High School auditorium. A second objective was to renew what at once had been a strong interest in drama at the school and the third was to make it fun for the students.

Feyen appears to be hitting all three objectives which will be obvious when the curtain goes up at 7:30 p.m. on Friday’s performance of “Once Upon A Mattress. Performances are also at 7:30 on Saturday with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.

“It’s been going really well and it’s a real fun show,” said Feyen. “It’s got a lot of dancing and fun stuff that we didn’t have in last year’s show which was done with more of a smaller cast. This musical has a lot of ensemble parts so there are a lot of kids on stage at all times.”

Having a larger cast brings more students into the MAPS drama program as there are students from the seventh to 12th grade in this show. That is something that just adds to the talent base according to Feyen.

“This show is especially fun for the kids who are in the ensemble because they have more to do and more going on for them,” said Feyen. “It’s just such a good group of kids that I get to work with and they are coming and really working hard, having fun and doing a lot of great work. We have about 35 kids in all with the cast and crew. That is bigger than last year and there are some new faces, which is great to see with more people getting involved.”

Feyen said the MAPS drama program is growing stronger with the passing of each show.

“Students came out for the play last fall and now they are doing the musical as well,” said Feyen. “They are realizing what the experience is like to be in a play. We have had many that started out helping backstage and now they want to be part of the cast. So it is really starting to catch on.”

Feyen said “Once Upon A Mattress” is such a fun family show that people of all ages will enjoy it.

Leading roles in the show are Nada Underwood (minstrel), Connolly “Tug” Thuemmel (Wizard), Angelina Sam (Jester), Leah Snyder (Queen Aggravain), Blade Gates (Prince Dauntless), Chloe Pepera (Princess Winnifred), Ryan Biller (King Sextimus the Silent), Ava Thuemmel (Lady Larken) and Zac Parker (Sir Harry).

Ava Thuemmel in the role of Lady Larkin and Zac Parker as Sir Harry gaze into each other's eyes in a scene from 'Once Upon A Mattress' that Manistee Middle/High School drama students are presenting this weekend.

Ava Thuemmel in the role of Lady Larkin and Zac Parker as Sir Harry gaze into each other’s eyes in a scene from ‘Once Upon A Mattress’ that Manistee Middle/High School drama students are presenting this weekend.

Taking on the task of Ladies in Waiting are Destini Gardner (Lady Rowena), Lauren Hanna (Lady Lucille) and Boe-Lillie Schafer (Lady Merrill). The Knights will be portrayed by Bay Anderson (Sir Luce), Kyla White (Sir Studley), Anthony Erlandson, Olivia Holtgren and Brook Rinck.

Others in the ensembles are Kasey Eckhardt (dance captain/Princess No. 12/Lady Mabelle), Brynn O’Donnell, Madelyn Schmutzler and Macie Goodspeed.

“It’s good to have a cast that is mixture of younger and older students,” said Feyen. “The younger ones are really excited and we are hoping to take that energy and build on it.”

Helping with the set design for the production is Michael Mikula, who has done things for the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts and the Manistee Civic Players productions.

“He is turning the front of our stage into a castle and we are really thankful to have someone like him working with us to give the audience that feel of being in the castle,” said Feyen.

Feyen said they are going to get a chance to preview some scenes before a live audience as they are going to the elementary schools and will do a show for the middle school school students.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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