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Farmington High School will present 'Once Upon a Mattress' this weekend

Princess Winifred (Ashlea Orth) plants a big smooch on Prince Dauntless (Andrew Jackson) in the Farmington High School production of "Once Upon a Mattress," on stage this weekend at the District Auditorium in Boeckman Middle School.2 / 2

There is always a story behind the story. As it turns out, this week's Farmington High School musical production of "Once Upon a Mattress" actually has two.

Under the direction of FHS English teacher Maria Capecchi, "Once Upon a Mattress" tells the story, of sorts, of how a princess happened to be sleeping on a pile of mattresses and feeling a pea at the bottom in the famous fairytale, The Princess and the Pea.

In Once Upon a Mattress, the audience sees how Princess Winifred, played by Ashlea Orth, comes to meet her Prince Dauntless, played by Andrew Jackson. Throughout the play, the queen, played by Ali Carlson, tries test Winifred to determine whether the wayward girl really is a princess. The king, played by Jon Gaisor, just wants to get his voice back.

"It's the story of what actually happened before the fairytale," Capecchi said.

This is Capecchi's first time at directing a musical in Farmington. She has a theater and English degree from the College of St. Benedict. The focus of her theater program was on costuming and directing.

With that background, Capecchi really tried to restructure certain parts of the FHS drama program. She held auditions before the school year even started, so she could include one week of simply working on acting skills with the cast. She helped the students develop their characters and taught them how to think and act like those characters while they are on stage.

"The kids have been working very hard," Capecchi said. "I'm hoping what people will see is not a bunch of teenagers on the stage, but the characters."

Capecchi also tried to involve as many students as possible in other parts of the production. In the past, she said, the set was done by adults, and adults developed the costumes. Not so with her production. The students in the production actually went out and found their own costumes, and a crew of students built the set, as well.

The orchestra is made up of high school band members.

"It's all students, with a little help from a few adults. It's pretty much a student-centered production," Capecchi said.

Why a fall musical?

For years, the FHS musical has been held in the spring. Not so this year. Capecchi decided to try something different by having the musical in the fall.

The reasoning is simple: timing. In the spring, Capecchi is coaching the speech team. Fine arts students are involved in band and choir concerts. There are programs planned, and so on. On top of that, there are usually a handful of spring sports going on, and many students are already thinking ahead to graduation.

This year, the one-act play will be held in the winter, and the annual drama production - which typically has been held in the fall - will now be held in the spring.

"It seems to have been pretty successful this way," Capecchi said.

FHS vocal music teacher Megan Dimich serves as vocal director, band director Jeff Gottwig is the pit band director and English teacher Sarah Stout is the technical director.

"Once Upon a Mattress" will be held Nov. 15-17 at the district auditorium in Boeckman Middle School, 800 Denmark Ave. Programs begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the door, and are $10 for preferred seating; $7 for adults; and $5 for students and senior citizens.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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