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Somers High Students to Present 'Mattress'

SOMERS, N.Y. - Fifty Somers High School students will have a chance to flaunt their talents this weekend when they sing, dance and act in the musical comedy "Once Upon a Mattress," written by Richard Rodgers’ daughter, Mary, and based on the Hans Christian Andersen story "The Princess and the Pea."

“I’ve done many shows, but I’ve never done this one,” said director Ann Ferraro , an 11-year veteran at the high school. “Jim Gerth, our set designer, has suggested it before, but we never got around to it until now.”

Joe Coppola, a 17-year-old junior, plays King Sextimus the Silent. “I say my lines in pantomime,” he said. “I’ve never seen the show. I didn’t want to, because I want to make everything fresh.”

Sophomore Georgia Schunk, 16, is Queen Aggravain. “She’s very loud. I’m loud, but she’s harsh and mean. I’m not,” Schunk said. “I had to work on different voices. You could make her very elegant or overly aggressive, but you’ve got to keep it consistent. I have a lot of lines.”

Winnifred, the princess who has to deal with the pea, will be played by senior Catherine Saraceno, 17.

“She’s very boisterous and confident,” Saraceno said. “She’s nothing like me. I’m very shy.”

Director Ferraro noted that Winnifred was a career-making role for Carol Burnett.  Saraceno plans to study drama in college, so it may be a propitious beginning. Other well-known Winnifreds include Sarah Jessica Parker, Imogene Coca, Dody Goodman and Tracy Ullman.

Seventeen-year-old senior Paula Chang, as the Jester, also has some tough acts to follow. The role has been played by Elliott Gould and Wally Cox.

“The jester is the king’s sidekick, his partner in crime,” Chang said. “I jest all the time, always with the king. The king is mute, so I translate everything he says.”

“Our costumes are beautiful,” Ferraro said. “Medieval ladies-in-waiting and knights. And Linda Duci’s choreography is very original.”

Ferraro said the company would like to do more than three performances, “but we have to pay rights for every performance.”

The large cast will be supported by a full orchestra comprising both students and professionals.

"Once Upon a Mattress" will premiere Friday at 8 p.m. There will be another performance Saturday at 8 p.m. and a matinee Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students.

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