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Cast members from Stebens Children's Theatre's production of "Once Upon a Mattress" pose for a photo prior to a rehearsal on Wednesday in Mason City.

MASON CITY | A comical adaptation of the fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea” is taking the stage at Stebens Children’s Theatre in Mason City Thursday.

And Tom Ballmer, Stebens executive director, said this production is bound to entertain all ages with its “stellar cast,” “wacky tongue-and-cheek stuff” and song and dance.

“We’re really having a great time with it,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

“Once Upon a Mattress,” sponsored by Children’s Dental Center of Mason City and Todd and Renee Hoeppner, runs from Dec. 6-9 and Dec. 13-16 at Stebens, 616 N. Delaware Ave. in Mason City. Performances are at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday with the exception of the 6 p.m. Dec. 15 performance.

The musical, which appeared on Broadway twice, is a comedy about a kingdom ruled by a devious queen and a mute king where couples are unable to wed until their son Prince Dauntless, played by Grant Bohls, does.

In the queen’s attempt to keep her son single, she requires eligible women to take — and pass — a sensitivity test to marry him. Her plan is threatened when the “strong-willed” Princess Winnifred, played by Ava Ciavarelli, arrives in the kingdom.

“Prince Dauntless, who is abused by his mother the whole play, a kind of wilting flower, not the strongest of characters, loves her right away,” Ballmer said. “He thinks she’s just the greatest.”

Bohls, 14, who is in his 16th on-stage production at Stebens, said he decided to audition for the musical because he loves singing and dancing and knew it’d be “a really fun show” with “a lot of fun characters.”

Having no idea what part he’d receive when he auditioned, Bohl said he’s pleased with being cast as Prince Dauntless, who he describes as weak, unintelligent, curious and so in love.

"He's very different from me," he said.

Lucas Bartholomew, 15, who plays King Sextimus the Silent, said he is appearing in his second Stebens production.

His character, who is mute, requires him to mime his lines much of the musical, which posed a new challenge for the actor.

“Before doing this show, I though acting was just memorizing lines and verbally speaking them,” Bartholomew said. “I just enjoy the extra challenge. He’s a very different character from the rest.”

He described the king as someone who’s “just a big goofball, lovable character.”

The king’s miming is interpreted by the Jester, played by Tiyana Rogers, 15, throughout the show.

“He’s a hoot,” she said of the character she plays as a male. “He’s definitely a best friend of the king who knows mostly everything he’s going to say. He loves to have fun.”

The production is Rogers’ first in more than two years. She said she wanted to return to the theater to get closer to her Stebens friends again.

“It’s definitely a great show to come back to,” she said.

Rogers said the audience is bound to fall in love with Princess Winnifred as well as the musical’s songs and dances.

“I bet you’ll walk out of here singing one of our songs because they get stuck in your head so easily,” she said.

Bohls and Bartholomew agreed, adding how humorous the show is and how much work the cast and crew have put into it.

“It’s going to be a really good time,” Bohls said.

The production features a cast and crew of more than 40 members.

“It’s a big cast and it’s a really stellar cast,” Ballmer said. “We have a lot of singing talent on the stage.”

Those cast in “Once Upon a Mattress” are: Jackson Everist, minstrel; Seth Pistek, wizard; Jennaya Everist, Princess No. 12; Makenna Hansen, Lady Larkin; Kylie Hansen, Queen Aggravain; Grant Bohls, Prince Dauntless; Lucas Bartholomew, King Sextimus the Silent; Tiyana Rogers, Jester; Kyler Fredricks, Sir Studley; Daniel Stephenson, Sir Luce; Alex Bohls, First Knight; Bennett Hansen, Second Knight; Kaleb Hrubetz, Third Knight-Sir Harold; Annemarie Hansen, First Lady in Waiting-Rowen; Abby Hartkopp, Second Lady in Waiting-Merrill; Maggie Gerrietts, Third Lady in Waiting-Lucille; Julia Arickx, Lady Emily; Katelyn Hagenow, Lady Mabelle; Ishnoor Kaur, Lady Beatrice; Romey Navarette, Lady H; Marcus Buttweiler, Sir Harry; Ava Ciavarelli, Princess Winnifred; ladies-in-waiting Naomi Garrett, Myia Innis and Lauren Jurgens; knights Cian DeVary, Rebecca Kadera, Benny Schutt, Marcus Shaffer and Alexander Shipman; and children Peyton Bobolz, Elsa Bookmeyer, Henry Hansen, Elexander Johnson-Rodriguez, Addi Menke and Riley Navarette.

The crew is Olivia Schissel, assistant stage manager; Madilynn Loats, assistant director; Brynn Christianson, assistant to the director/props; Emily Ogaard, lights; Myia Innis, makeup; Janae Hansen, makeup/spot operator; Amelia Mirowski, sound; Lauren Hermanson, spot operator; Eden Lewerke, stage manager.

Tickets are $13 for adults and $10 for children 18 and younger. They are available at the theater or by calling the box office 641-424-9802 between noon and 5 p.m. weekdays.

• Photos: Stebens Children's Theatre the last five years in Mason City

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Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.



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