Broadway Blip: Once Upon a Mattress
Today I am celebrating the musical that essentially made a star out of Carol Burnett, one of our greatest living comediennes. Once Upon a Mattress opened Off-Broadway in 1959 and was soon ushered to Broadway not long after its opening. The musical features a score by Mary Rodgers (daughter of Richard Rodgers), lyrics by Marshall Barer, and a book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Barer. It was musical version of fairy tale The Princess and the Pea, taking a slightly satirical poke at the story of a princess who must earn the right to marry a prince, by proving her royalty through a test cooked up by a controlling queen. Twenty downy mattresses are stacked and tiny pea placed under the bottom one. If the princess sleeps and doesn’t feel the pea, she isn’t worthy of royal marriage. The musical features a fun and frolicsome score including “I’m Shy”, “Many Moons Ago”, “In a Little While”, “Sensitivity”, “Normandy” and “Happily Ever After.” The musical ran for 244 performances and was nominated for Tony Awards for Best Musical and Leading Actress. The musical was revived on Broadway in 1996 with Sarah Jessica Parker in the lead. Once Upon a Mattress was filmed for television on three occasions, in 1964, 1972, and 2005. It has become a popular title with high schools and youth theatres.
Fun Fact: After Burnett concluded her tenure in the role of Princess Winnifred, Ann B. Davis (Alice from TVs The Brady Bunch) took over the role on Broadway.