‘Mattress’ is springy fun at Morristown High, April 1-3

Kate Croonquist, center, stars in 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kate Croonquist, center, stars in 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Kate Croonquist and Kirsten Traudt in MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress,' the musical based on Hans Christian Andesen's 'The Princess and the Pea.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kate Croonquist and Kirsten Traudt in MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress,’ the musical based on Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Princess and the Pea.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin

By Kevin Coughlin

Comedy is a serious business.

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.

Kate Croonquist, center, stars in 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kate Croonquist, center, stars in ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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.

Victorian Fanning, Liam Mejia and Jeremy Palmer in 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Victorian Fanning, Liam Mejia and Jeremy Palmer in ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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.

Alexandra Monfalcone and Hugh Grennan as Lady Larken and Sir Harry. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Alexandra Monfalcone and Hugh Grennan as Lady Larken and Sir Harry. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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.

Kirsten Traudt as Queen Aggravain. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kirsten Traudt as Queen Aggravain. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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 Carol  was 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.

MORE ABOUT ‘ONCE UPON A MATTRESS’

Amy Albin and Kirsten Traudt in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Amy Albin and Kirsten Traudt in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Nik Slackman in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Nik Slackman in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Victoria Fanning in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Victoria Fanning in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Victoria Fanning in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Victoria Fanning in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
King Sextimus teaches Prince Dauntless the Facts of Life  in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
King Sextimus teaches Prince Dauntless the Facts of Life in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kate Croonquist makes a point in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kate Croonquist makes a point in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Nik Slackman as Prince Dauntless in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Nik Slackman as Prince Dauntless in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
PUMPING IRON in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
PUMPING IRON in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Colorful costumes in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Colorful costumes in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Hugh Grennan and Allie Fielding in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Hugh Grennan and Allie Fielding in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kirsten Traudt as Queen Aggravain in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kirsten Traudt as Queen Aggravain in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Jeremy Palmer in  the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Jeremy Palmer in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Victoria Fanning, Liam Media and Jeremy Palmer in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Victoria Fanning, Liam Mejia and Jeremy Palmer in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Victoria Fanning in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Victoria Fanning in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Maggie Mustion in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Maggie Mustion in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kirsten Traudt and Steven Blenner in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kirsten Traudt and Steven Blenner in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Supporting cast  in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Supporting cast in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The cast  in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The cast in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
FUTURE IN-LAWS  in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
FUTURE IN-LAWS in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Cast sings in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Cast sings in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Ensemble number in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Ensemble number in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Cast kicks up its heels in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Cast kicks up its heels in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kate Croonquist sings in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kate Croonquist sings in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kate Croonquist as Princess Winnifred in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kate Croonquist as Princess Winnifred in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kate Croonquist as Princess Winnifred in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kate Croonquist as Princess Winnifred in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kate Croonquist as Princess Winnifred in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kate Croonquist as Princess Winnifred in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kirsten Traudt and Liam Mejia in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kirsten Traudt and Liam Mejia in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Alexandra Monfalcone and Hugh Grennan in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Alexandra Monfalcone and Hugh Grennan in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Cast serenades Nik Slackman as Prince Dauntless in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Cast serenades Nik Slackman as Prince Dauntless in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Cast dances in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Cast dances in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Cast in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Cast in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Steven Blenner in  the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Steven Blenner in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Maggie Mustion and Steven Blenner in  the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Maggie Mustion and Steven Blenner in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Jeremy Palmer in  the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Jeremy Palmer in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Jeremy Palmer in  the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Jeremy Palmer in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME! Swordplay in the Spring 2016 MHS production of 'Once Upon a Mattress.' Photo by Kevin Coughlin
DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME! Swordplay in the Spring 2016 MHS production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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