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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Once Upon a Mattress (1972)

Set in a medieval kingdom, a duplicitous Queen (Jane White) is determined to keep her son (Ken Berry) unmarried and tied to her. She insists on a test for all the Princesses who apply to be his wife but the tests are rigged for the Princesses to fail. But when a rather unrefined Princess (Carol Burnett) catch's the Prince's eye, the Queen has to make her test more difficult than ever. Based on the fairy tale THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA, this musical began off-Broadway in 1959 but it was a surprise success that quickly transferred to Broadway the same year. It made Carol Burnett a star and one can see why. It's been done for television three times: in 1964 and 1972 with Burnett repeating her stage role and in 2005 with Tracey Ullman as the Princess and Burnett as the Queen. Unfortunately, this 1972 production is played way too broadly as if it were an extended sketch on Burnett's variety show. Worst of all, they've added a horrid laugh and applause track which all but sabotages the production. What remains is the lovely song score by Mary Rodgers (Richard's daughter) and Marshall Barer even though some songs from the stage production have been eliminated. Directed by Ron Field and David Powers. With Bernadette Peters, Wally Cox, Jack Gilford, Ron Hussman and Lyle Waggoner.

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