Thursday, October 3, 2013

MT Soundtracker: Day 3

Once Upon A Mattress (1959)

Original Broadway Cast Recording

Music: Mary Rodgers
Lyrics: Marshall Barer

Plot summary: The musical is based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale The Princess and the Pea, I'm sure you are all familiar with it. Princess Winnifred has to complete tasks to win Prince Dauntless to herself and convince his strict mother, Queen Aggravan, that she is a true princess (King Sextimus is kinder but he can't speak because he is under a curse). The story line is the same as in the fairytale with an additional slightly surreal comic element to it. 

Once Upon A Mattress is classified as a musical comedy and most of the music is, accordingly, very upbeat. The soundtrack as a whole sounds like it's aimed at children with its simple word choices and clear articulation. This makes it quite accessible but I do have to put down a giant cheese alert even on a musical theatre junkie scale. The songs are not quite as exaggerated as in for example Spamalot and most certainly not as witty but some of the lyrics made me laugh. I particularly enjoyed Song of Love (there's me bobbing along to "Iiii'm in love with a girl named Fred etc."). Shy is a brilliantly juxtaposed track with the character belting out to everyone about how she is shy. Happily Ever After sung by Princess Winnifred is quite a nice character song for a mezzo-soprano but I did not feel enough connection with the track to actually consider taking it up as a rep song.  

Once Upon A Mattress started its run off-Broadway in 1959, went to Broadway briefly and then embarked on a US tour in 1960, the same year the musical opened in the West End. There was a subsequent Broadway revival in 1996 (of which there also is a cast recording; Sarah Jessica Parker played Princess Winnifred) and there have been a few television adaptations with the first one in 1964 which was broadcast live. The show most often crops up as a school or amateur group production. 

(If anyone's wondering about the sources, I'm using good old Wikipedia most of the time :P)

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