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Once upon a '


January 31, 2002|By RICHARD MONTENEGRO, Staff Writer

A single pea. That's all it took to find a true princess.

"The Princess and The Pea," written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1835, told the tale of a prince searching the world over for a "true" princess worthy of marriage.

After finding no one, a young women sopping wet from a terrible rainstorm shows up on the door step of the prince's home looking for lodging. To test whether she is a real princess, the old queen of the home places a single pea beneath a mound of 20 mattresses in the young woman's bedchamber.

A fitful night's sleep ensues and proves to the prince and queen that only a true princess would feel a small pea beneath so many down mattresses.


More than a century later, Andersen's fable was turned into a musical comedy titled "Once Upon A Mattress," which will performed Friday and Saturday by the students of the Southwest Academy of the Visual and Performing Arts.

Starring SAVAPA students Kitzya Leal as Princess Winnifred the Woebegone, Steven Sanudo as Prince Dauntless the Drab, Katy Calvin as Lady Larkin and Elena Cordero as Queen Agravain, the play made famous by Carol Burnett in 1959 will be staged at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday in the Southwest Performing Arts Theatre in El Centro.

The 85-student production will have the added attraction of professionally constructed sets courtesy of Starlight Theatre, San Diego's civic opera company.

SAVAPA coordinator and show choreographer Debi Buchanan said through a state grant SAVAPA received last year, the program was able to forge an alliance with Starlight Theatre.

"For the production, they have loaned us a $25,000 professional set," she said. "The Starlight connection is excellent because they also sent a technical director to oversee the rebuilding of the sets and another technical director just to be on site for two weeks to make sure everything was done appropriately.

She added through Starlight Theatre, it will be possible for SAVAPA students to have summer internships with the professional company.

"It's an exciting opportunity for the students," Buchanan added.

With two large towers, a connecting bridge and a rotating set allowing for multiple scenes, the set of "Once Upon A Mattress" should be something to behold, she said.

However, it will be through the hard work of the SAVAPA students that the play comes to life.

"The students have been working since November on this production," said Buchanan, who worked alongside musical director Anita Slobig and theatrical director Kelly Hanna.

Tickets for the production are $5 each and can purchased at Clark Baker Music in El Centro or the Southwest theater box office or by calling 336-4229.

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