The musical is over. Bethel High School’s cast of Once Upon A Mattress, despite battling illness, pulled together and put on a resounding performance. Ms. Neville, who ran the show, was able to give Wildcat Word a little insight on what goes into the creation of a high school musical.
This production “includes a large cast. It’s an ensemble and there are all these little romantic subplots,” she explained when asked why Once Upon A Mattress was chosen. “It’s good for high school, but it also depends on the people. I look at the available orchestration, cast size, and talent, and I try to find a show that fits. Last year we did 42nd Street because we had a tremendous amount of girls who could tap dance.”
The planning for the next year’s musical begins almost immediately. “I spend about six months deciding on a show, gathering ideas for set construction and really plotting out how I am going to accomplish it before I even begin auditions,” Neville noted. One of the major concerns when choosing a musical is cost. For Once Upon A Mattress the licensing rights were extremely high, and access to the pit music and scripts cost nearly $5,000.
When asked about the performance in retrospect, Ms. Neville had nothing to say but praise. “It turned out wonderful,” she proudly exclaimed. “Each person excelled in the role he or she was given. As they became more and more comfortable with the script they included their own character in their roles,” she explained citing Shawn Silva and Connor Sawyer and their characters as examples.
Isabel Tipton, who played the lead role of Princess Winifred, was proud of how she and her fellow students pulled together and performed the show despite setbacks. “Gaeton was sick the first weekend and Casey was sick the second, but they really stepped up their game and did well,” she confessed.
Gaeton’s sudden illness caused somewhat of a panic opening night; and Brenden Fawkes, a BHS graduate and Junior at WestConn stepped in to take his part in case of an emergency. On the opening Friday, everyone in the musical was excused from their classes to bring him up to speed. In the end Gaeton ended up performing, and the last minute practice was actually useful, giving everyone in the musical the chance to run through one last time. “It was cast bonding, and people hearing us singing outside made them want to come,” explained Tipton.
Tipton added, “Thinking back on it, it was a really perfect show to pick for the people we had. Overall we did an amazing job.”