This weekend, the River City Community Players are approaching an old favorite from a new direction.
Starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday, the RCCP will present its second youth production for this season, “Once Upon a Mattress.” The original 1959 musical is based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea.” Josh Shockey, no stranger to RCCP youth productions, is directing this production. He said he enjoys working with younger actors and added that he always directs his cast to perform beyond their years.
“My goal is that I don’t want people leaving the theater thinking they watched a youth production,” he said.
According to Shockey, the cast of 30 young people — all between the ages of 9 and 14 — have stepped up to that level for this version of “Once Upon a Mattress,” from the “Getting to Know” series of musicals. The main change of the “Getting to Know” version from the original, Shockey said, is that the play itself has been edited somewhat.
“They’ve made it more family- and kid-friendly,” he said.
The “Getting to Know” version is also shorter, at about an hour or an hour and 15 minutes, Shockey said. And, of course, this version will be performed by young people. Though there is an adult stage manager, Shockey said many of the scene changes will come from stage hands the same age as the cast.
Shockey said one of the things he’s most excited about are the young people playing the leads.
“I think they’re just top-notch kids in the community,” he said.
Danielle Sachse will play Queen Aggravain, Larkin Reilly will play Princess Winnifred and Raphael Tate will portray Prince Dauntless the Drab, that last role one that Shockey is more than a little with, having been cast in it at the Hollywood Theater 14 years ago.
“We’ve come full circle,” he said.
The River City Community Players will present "Once Upon a Mattress" at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Leavenworth Performing Arts Center, otherwise known s the Hollywood Theater at Fifth and Delaware streets. Tickets are available by calling 913-561-0027.