PHOTO COURTESY OF KELSEY MCNEILLEY (Left to right) Seniors Tien Nguyen, Win Aung, Samantha Martinez, Vivian Phan, and Kelly Hoang work together on creating a set piece. "The biggest challenge is getting a list of props because we have many different props in different scenes and it gets really wild," Aung said.

Drama Club prepares for Once Upon a Mattress musical production in mid-April

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Drama Club is preparing for their newest musical Once Upon a Mattress. The plot is based on the story of The Princess and The Pea. It is the club’s second major production of the year after A Midsummer Night’s Dream in November 2021.

The pandemic had complicated Drama Club’s preparation for the musical. In particular, the Omicron variant raised doubts that the show would even be possible. Multiple aspects of the set building process were set back as a result, such as purchasing lumber and shipping times.

“Lumber prices are really high, things take longer to ship, so building the set is tough. The students come in on Saturday, and we put together the set using the blueprints created at home,” Drama teacher Kelsey McNeilly said. “It’s important for the actors in the musical to help build the set because it gives everyone a sense of ownership in the creation of the show! It’s really important to me that the students and the community view the show as their show.”

Although the production has experienced some difficulties, involvement in the musical has given the performers an opportunity to explore new characters. Senior Welton Czhang, who initially auditioned for the role of King Sextimus, was moved to the role of the First Knight and ended up cast as the Third Knight.

“Overall, I was gunning for the role of King Sextimus and didn’t get it, but I do not mind the position I have received,” Czhang said. “I joined Drama Club over distance learning, and then, I learned it did plays, and I had to be in it. One thing that really influenced me was a previous alumnae talking about Drama Club and the plays they put on, and that convinced me! Thus, I thrust myself into the next play that would be available, Once Upon A Mattress.”

Being involved in the play has provided students a role of responsibility. Senior Win Aung, who is the backstage manager, enjoys having people count on him to have the necessary props ready for the scene.

“My responsibilities as a backstage manager is taking care of the props like where the props go in each scene,” Aung said. “Who is coming onto the stage next, whoever’s in the backstage, if we have a scene with their parts, I have to tell them that they’re up, and they have to go out, get the props, and everything. My favorite part is being the person that people really count on because I’m in charge of something. It’s hard for me to explain, but it gives me this pride of being in charge of this area.”

The Drama Club hopes to leave audience members feeling happy after the show. Beyond that, the goal is to inspire students who watch the musical to pursue their passions the way the cast has. 

“The theater is an amazing place, and there is no better feeling than a bunch of people getting together to tell a story,” McNeilly said. “Making theater teaches lifelong lessons: teamwork, hard work, multitasking, responsibility, and leadership.”

The show dates for Once Upon a Mattress are April 15, 16, 20, and 22. Tickets can be purchased at https://sghsdrama.ludus.com/.

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