Once Upon a Mattress is a musical comedy that premiered in 1964, starring legendary comedian Carol Burnett as Princess Winnifred the Woebegone. The musical has since become an iconic part of Broadway history, and it continues to be enjoyed by audiences around the world today. In this article, we will explore the background of this beloved musical, its storyline and characters, Carol Burnett’s role in it, its music and songs, its critical reception, its legacy, and more!
Background of the Musical:
Once Upon a Mattress was written by Mary Rodgers (daughter of composer Richard Rodgers) with lyrics by Marshall Barer and book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Marshall Barer. It opened on May 11th 1964 at The Phoenix Theatre on Broadway with Carol Burnett playing Princess Winnifred alongside Jack Gilford as King Sextimus the Silent. The musical was based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale “The Princess and the Pea” but with a modern twist. It was directed by George Abbott and choreographed by Joe Layton.
Storyline and Characters:
The story follows Princess Winnifred who is determined to marry Prince Dauntless despite his father’s reluctance due to her uncouth behavior. In order to prove her worthiness to marry him she must pass a test set up by his mother Queen Aggravain. With help from her friends Sir Harry and Lady Larken she is able to pass the test with flying colors thus winning over King Sextimus’ heart in the process. Other characters include Minstrels Mordroc & Arac; Wizard Wilburforce; Jester; Lady Rowena; Lord Brockhurst; Lady Lucille; Lord Roderick; Lady Merrill; Sir Studley; Pageantry Players; Chorus of Courtiers & Pages & Gossipers.
Carol Burnett’s Role in the Musical:
Carol Burnett brought her trademark comedic timing and physical humor to her role as Princess Winnifred which earned her both critical acclaim as well as a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. Her performance featured many memorable moments such as when she sang “Shy” while trying to win over Prince Dauntless or when she performed an outrageous physical comedy routine while dressed up as a chicken during “In A Little While” number. She also had some touching moments such as when she sang “Happily Ever After” during which she expressed her desire for true love that transcends all obstacles. All these elements combined made for an unforgettable performance that has been praised for generations since then.
Music and Songs from the Musical:
Once Upon A Mattress features some classic show tunes such as “Many Moons Ago”, “Happily Ever After”, “In A Little While”, “Shy” ,and many more! These songs are full of wit and charm that bring out each character’s unique personality traits even further than what is seen onstage through their dialogue or actions alone can do so. All these songs together create an enchanting atmosphere that transports viewers into another world full of adventure where anything can happen!
Critical Reception of the Musical:
Once Upon A Mattress received mostly positive reviews from critics upon its debut in 1964 with many praising Carol Burnett’s performance specifically for bringing new life into fairytales such as this one through her comedic talent. It was nominated for 6 Tony Awards including Best Performance By A Leading Actress In A Musical (which went to Burnett), Best Direction Of A Musical (which went to Abbott), Best Original Score (which went to Rodgers). It also won 3 Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Featured Actor In A Musical (for Gilford) Outstanding Music (for Rodgers) & Outstanding Lyrics (for Barer).
Legacy of Once Upon a Mattress:
Since its debut in 1964 Once Upon A Mattress has been revived multiple times on Broadway most recently in 1996 starring Sarah Jessica Parker & Nathan Lane among others but also Off-Broadway & regionally throughout America & Canada alike! It has also been adapted into films twice firstly in 1972 starring Twiggy & Danny Kaye then again in 2005 starring Tracey Ullman & Matthew Broderick respectively! Most recently it was adapted into an animated TV special featuring voices from Matthew Broderick Sarah Jessica Parker Kelsey Grammer & Carol Channing among others which aired on NBC Christmas Day 2019! Its legacy continues to live on through these various adaptations proving just how timeless this musical truly is!
Once Upon a Mattress is an iconic musical comedy that premiered back in 1964 featuring legendary comedian Carol Burnett as Princess Winnifred alongside other talented cast members such as Jack Gilford creating something truly special! Its witty dialogue charming music delightful performances