DAMASCUS—Middle school students take the stage at Damascus Area School this Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. for their performance of “Once Upon a Mattress,” a magical tale of love, marriage, and merriment.

According to Director Melanie Hansen, “Once Upon a Mattress” tells the tale of the “Princess and the Pea” within a fractured fairy-tale setting.

“The show is very good for beginners,” said Hansen, explaining this year's cast is comprised of a lot of fourth and fifth graders new to the theater scene.

“It's a real funny show, good show for kids,” said Hansen.

Play protagonist Prince Dauntless – portrayed by two-time returning thespian Drew Rutledge – must be wed so that the rest of the kingdom can do so as well.

But, alas, his domineering mother, Queen Aggravain – played by five-time stage veteran Kylie Chrisler – concocts a series of elaborate tests to weed out as many potential brides as possible and forestall the matrimony as long as she can.

Alongside Dauntless and Aggravain on stage will be the plucky Princess Winnifred, (Madison O'Brien), the quiet King (Sean Smith), a musical Minstrel and jocular Jester (Cassidy Burgett and Jordan Patzuk), a wise Wizard (Morgan Wendell), the Lady Larkan (Emily Ruggles), Princess 12 (Danielle Gager), Lucille (Danielle Gager), Rowena (Nicole Hector), Sir Harry (Aubree Young), two Knights (Gregor Stich and Aiden Schwisenger), Harriet (Katie Crum) and several Ladies in Waiting (Nicole Hector, Danielle Gregor, Natalie Johnson, Alissa Turner, Katie Crum, Morgan Wendell, Ava Patrisso and Madison Shaffer).

The cast has been rehearsing since the second week of September.

They expressed exultations of general excitement for the upcoming show with Chrisler and O'Brien stating they'll find it a great relief to see the culmination of their work come together.

“It's long,” said Chrisler, speaking of the rehearsals, “but [the show's] gonna be a success in the end.”

Chrisler stated she enjoyed tapping into the queen's callous demeanor while Ruggles found the sense of freedom in Lady Larken to be her favorite aspect of her character.

Stage newcomer Sean Smith stated he found his role as the King to be interesting because he had to learn to communicate without talking.

“He's actually pretty fun to play because of all the mime movements since he's silent,” said Smith.

Rutledge, the show's dauntless protagonist, said he most favored the singing.

O'Brien said she was able to relate to being Princess Winnifred because she's “enthusiastically crazy.”

Supporting the cast from the sidelines are student stagehands Luke LeClerer, Kyle O'Brien, Zachary Brown, Taylor Wendell and Chaz Fulkrod.

The musical was also helped along by Production Assistant Elaine LoCicero and Music Director Christopher Gallow.

LoCicero said “the production has been great,” commending the students for striking a balance between school work and rehearsal.

Gallow said he most appreciates the ensemble's teamwork.

“I enjoy the process of how they work together and have improved over the last month or so,” he said.

Will the prince find love? Will a daring, dashing damsel persist through all the queen's calamitous contests?

Join the cast this Friday or Saturday at 7 p.m. to find out!

Tickets are available at the door on online from www.honesdalepac.com at a cost of $5 per adult and $3 per child.