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Bringing the School Together with Once Upon a Mattress

The Northwest School has a long standing tradition of putting on a play every year, and this year the tradition was continued with Once Upon a Mattress. Last year, Little Women was brought to our school by an amazing cast, many of whom returned to the theater this year in Once Upon a Mattress. There’s been a huge change in theme from the 60s to a medieval musical comedy, which not only shows the Northwest school’s variety in acting but the unique abilities of the theater department.

The first performance ever of Once Upon a Mattress was in May 11, 1959 and now in 2023, Northwest students brought it to life again. The storyteller of Once Upon a Mattress, Mary Rodgers, was wildly successful from her novel Freaky Friday to her first musical (Once Upon a Mattress) reaching 244 performances in the initial run. To continue her legacy, the talented Ashleigh Bragg (the leader of the NWS Theater Department) and the student director, Ayden D ‘23, directed the musical this year. The stagecraft class, led by Zach Humes, contributed to honoring Mary Rodgers through the beautiful set that they made. This set was huge, spanning the whole stage with two floors for the actors to walk on as well as a pit for the musicians. 

Besides the theater and backstage classes, different visual arts classes contributed to this play as well. In graphic design, students designed posters which can be seen around campus and in ceramics students were given the task of creating a prop to include in the play. This particular assignment has been part of the Northwest community for around 18 years. This year, Eliza R. ‘24 made a goblet for the play which can be seen during a variety of scenes. Will S. ‘26, who made one of the flyers that’s hanging around school, said “I’m really excited when I see people checking out the posters and seeing what my work has brought to the school.”

Opening night was on Thursday the 16th and performances graced our stage the following Friday and Saturday as well. There was a lot of excitement among cast and crew for these showings and a ton of people showed up and got to see this excitement pay off. Sally C. ‘25, who played Luces Lady in cast A and Lady Larken in cast B, said “I’m excited for the costumes,” and not for no reason because the costumes were extremely well done. Everyone had their own unique dress or suit which added to the colorful theme throughout the whole play. Even small details like the royalties crowns and hair were perfectly crafted and executed. Zoe R. ‘28, who worked backstage, echoed this by saying they were excited for this as well as the hair. Zoe also voiced that as a middle schooler this is the first play that they’ve ever worked on so they’re excited to “see all the work that was put into this production.” 

As one of the main characters in Once Upon a Mattress, Cooper G. ‘26 has had a lot of work to do on this production. Besides mentioning the “strenuous rehearsals” and how she was excited to see the “hat scene” where she gets to yank the hat off of the person who’s attempting to escape to reveal that it’s Lady Larken, Cooper shared that she was “excited to share her efforts with her friends and family” as well. Cooper went on to explain how she feels like the Northwest school theater program ties the school together whether you’re in the plays or just watching.

Ashleigh’s A Note from the Director writes about this point as well. She covers how theater has saved her life and how because it’s such hard work it ties the actors and backstage people together as well as the audience. Ashleigh writes about her ancestors and the importance of theater to her family during enslavement which is an incredibly moving passage and important story to share. You can read more about her experiences with theater in the pamphlets that were handed out during the shows. 

These performances are the final result of many hours of practice, rehearsals, and hard working students who all contributed to such a wonderful and exciting production. If you couldn’t make it to see any of the shows this year, make sure to check Romeo and Juliet next year or even try out for the show! 

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