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PHCS Follies ready for “Once Upon a Mattress” opening night

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PARISHVILLE - The stage lights were shining bright, students in medieval looking costumes were pacing back and forth and Parishville-Hopkinton music and vocal teacher Andrea Ellison was helping her cast work out the final kinks before opening night.

The Parishville-Hopkinton Central School Follies open this school year’s musical, “Once Upon a Mattress,” at 7 p.m. tonight and will have a second show at the same time on Saturday.

Ms. Ellison is the director of the show and has been assisted by music director Don J. Cannamela and stage manager Jennifer Blevins.

Ms. Ellison has been at PHCS for four years but is in her first year as director. She said that this year’s play should garner plenty of laughs from the audience.

“(The play) is basically a farce on ‘The Princess and the Pea.’ So instead of the princess being a beautiful, lovely maiden, she’s a little bit backwards and from the swamps. But in the end, she proves that she’s a real princess and the crazy queen doesn’t get her way,” Ms. Ellison said. “We really pick the show based on the students we have to work with. They’re a great bunch this year and they wanted to do something funny so we decided to pick out a comedy and have a good time.”

The cast and crew is made up of students in grades 7 through 12.

The director said that auditions for the various roles occurred in June and following summer vacation it was time for rehearsals. As it gets closer to opening night, the schedules become more hectic. “Up until about the end of October we practice twice a week in the evenings. Then after the month of November through now we’re here pretty often. We took a break for Thanksgiving though,” Ms. Ellison said.

Tickets for the show are $10 for adults and $5 for students. All proceeds will go toward helping put together next year’s production.

Olivia Collins, a freshman, is playing the role of Lady Lucille, one of the failed princesses vying for the hand of Prince Dauntless the Drab.

Ms. Collins, who was in last year’s production, “The Book Revue,” said that her experience and the fact that she is not playing a major role are limiting the butterflies in her stomach.

“I love the theater, and I love performing for people,” she said. “I think I’d be more nervous if I had a bigger part but I’m not that nervous. I don’t get nervous in front of crowds.”

Tanner Wilson, a sophomore, meanwhile said that he will be fighting nerves come opening night. Mr. Wilson is playing Sir Harry the Immaculate, a larger role in the story. “I’ve been doing this for years and I’ve always loved music and I love acting and I’ve got a really good music teacher,” he said. “I am also in chorus, band and stage band. I was in Fiddler on the Roof and the Book Revue in the past as well.

“(I’m) definitely nervous, definitely nervous. I’m always nervous before a show anyway. There’s also definitely a sense of relief. Show week is always big. Everyone’s running around and people are getting sick. That’s just the way show week is and as soon as it’s over with, I’m sure we’re going to do a great job and it’s a great relief.”

Once Upon a Mattress opened off-Broadway in 1959 and was written as an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Princess and the Pea.”

With her premiere as sole director less than 24 hours away, Ms. Ellison explained that she is extremely proud of all of the students and staff involved in making the production possible.

“These students auditioned last June and knew their parts over the summer so they were good about looking (their roles) up and watching the movie and putting in the time over the summer. So when we started in September they really were ready to go and they’ve worked extremely hard,” she said. “I’m extremely proud of them. We’ve had a few illnesses and things and they’ve worked on through and done a really great job.”

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