Especially if you have to act, sing and dance in addition to cracking jokes.
Really good comedians make it look easy. Really good comedians make it look fun.
Kate Croonquist is really good.
And she’s just a sophomore.
Croonquist sparkles as Princess Winnifred the Woebegone in Morristown High School’s sparkly spring musical, Once Upon a Mattress.
She’s spunky and plucky and swampy and tom-boyish, with nice singing chops and elastic expressions that might bring an approving chuckle from Carol Burnett, whose Broadway run in this role made her a star.
Croonquist is the biggest — but not the only — reason to see this escapist romp, a production that boasts clever sets (Moats! Splashing water! Bubbles! Parapets with an orchestra!), eye-popping costumes and an exuberant cast that seems to enjoy itself almost as much as its leading lady.
Nik Slackman caps an impressive high school theatrical career with a worthy performance as the doltish Prince Dauntless. Victoria Fanning is a delightful Jester, and Liam Mejia injects mischievous mirth as King Sextimus the Silent.
Sophomore Hugh Grennan (the Knightly Sir Harry), has become leading-man material since we met him as a spritely 11-year-old Irish dancer in Morristown’s Got Talent. He and his Mattress sweetheart, junior Alexandra Monfalcone, turn in a pair of tuneful duets.
But the performer who gives Croonquist a run for her money is senior Kirsten Traudt, who is over-the-top funny as the overbearing Queen Aggravain. Her face goes through more contortions than a Donald Trump apologist. In every scene, she commands attention — and she knows what to do with it.
Rookie Director Mike Maguire, who played Sir Harry as an MHS student in 2005, is now two-for-two. His fall re-telling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carolwas as lavish and ambitious as Mattress.
In the Yule production, a bit player in the second act impressed Maguire and his team with flashes of humor.
That player was Kate Croonquist. We’ll have to wait until the fall to see who emerges from Mattress as MHS Theatre’s next pleasant surprise.
Once Upon a Mattress
Morristown High School, 50 Early St.
April 1-2, 2016, at 7:30 pm, April 3 at 2 pm.
Tickets: $6-$12, online at mhstix.com or at the show.