Bed of Roses

By Darcie J. Flansburg

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Posted July 15, 2010 in Arts & Culture

There isn’t much to dislike about the Candlelight Dinner Pavilion Theatre; good food, great ambiance, and professional quality productions.

Though the venue has everything going for it, they often choose productions that are well known and therefore elicit great expectations from its audiences.

Once Upon A Mattress is no exception to the rule, but once again the venue, director, ensemble, costumers and tech crew pulled out all of the stops for another musical comedy gem.
The show is the musical version of the fairy-tale The Princess and the Pea.
Queen Aggravain wants nothing but the best for her only son, Prince Dauntless, which means that any future wife for Dauntless must pass a test to prove that she is a true princess. But this is not just a problem for Dauntless as he watches princess after princess get rejected by his mother, but the entire Kingdom is in peril because no one can wed until Dauntless does.
Once Upon a Mattress is famous for launching the career of Carol Burnett, who was nominated for a Tony for Best Leading Actress for her role as Princess Winnifred in 1960. And later, in 1997, the show was nominated for a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical, starring a pre-Sex and the City Sarah Jessica Parker.
The Candlelight ensemble was made up of newcomers to the venue and some old favorites.
Jordan Lamoureux was hilarious and lovable as Prince Dauntless. His knock-kneed immaturity was great in opposition to the over-controlling Queen Aggravain, played with ultimate composure and dominance by Zoe Bright.
Jenny Strattan oozed all of the sweetness and charm of a Disney princess with all of the quirkiness of Carol Burnett in the leading role of Princess Winnifred (“Fred”). She won over Dauntless and the audience upon exiting the moat that she had opted to swim across instead of waiting for the drawbridge.

Isaac James exhibited the vocal strength and ability of a knight as Sir Harry, opposite his damsel in distress Lady Larken, played by Candlelight newcomer Dimyana Pelev. Pelev and James’ duets were beyond enchanting, truly a marvelous pairing.
James McGrath and Chris Duir conspired in beautiful harmonies to help their new and old friends in the woeful kingdom; attempting to save Lady Larken’s honor and helping Winnifred to pass the Queen’s test.
And John Lynd did his best impression of Harpo Marx as the mute King Sextimus, eliciting laughter at every turn.
Though Candlelight Pavilion is always on point with its family musical choices, it would be nice to see artistic director John Lalonde branch out to do some more off-the-cuff musicals. The venue brings in such great talent; it would be really wonderful to see some of the more emotional and less of the comedic musicals out there, such as Spring Awakening or Hair, performed at the venue.
The company always puts together quality productions, and Once Upon a Mattress proves this yet again, so, perhaps, Candlelight Pavilion could use more of a challenge.

Once Upon a Mattress at Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater, 455 W. Foothill Blvd., Claremont, (909) 626-1254; www.candlelightpavilion.com.

Thru Aug. 15. General admission $48-68, $25-$30 for children under 12. Meal included with ticket purchase.


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