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The Two Faces of Princess Fred
RUMFORD -- What do you do with two talented actresses when you cannot decide in which role to cast each?
MVHS theater arts teacher Natalie Simmons faced that dilemma in casting parts for the recent musical performances of Once Upon a Mattress, the story of the princess and the pea. So she asked the actresses to learn both parts and split the performances. The results caused many in the audience to attend more than one night to see how each actress would handle the different roles.
For two nights, sophomore Morgan Gordon played Princess Winnifred, called Fred, while junior Lexi Fryover played Lady Larkin. The roles were reversed for the other two nights.
The two students explained the characters and how it felt to play each.
“I was originally cast as Fred,” said Gordon. “Fred is fun, outgoing and quirky like who I am. She’s not shy about things. Fred is someone you would like to be friends with but you know she’s really crazy.”
Fryover contrasted the Lady Larkin character, “Lady Larkin is the opposite of Fred. She is the one who everyone wants to take care of so she is dependent on others. Larkin is sweet and rather naive.”
“The challenge for me was playing Fred because I’m a more sensitive, quiet person,” explained Fryover. “I’m not really outgoing and crazy. For me, it was a big step out of my comfort zone, but it was really fun.”
Gordon said, “Lady Larkin was more difficult for me. I had to be soft, sweat, shy and helpless. Fortunately, Erich Zurhorst [Larkin’s lover, Sir Harry] and I are friends in real life so he made it easy to be a silly girl in love.“
Asked about the difficulty of learning two roles, Gordon described, “The hardest part was playing the two parts in rehearsal. Lexi was in field hockey so I had to do both roles in rehearsal while the other cast members learned their parts. It was hard to remember when to be on stage and for which role.”
Gordon credits the rest of the cast as being supportive of the split roles. “Everyone made it really easy -- they didn’t get thrown off by it. Erich and Cody (Cody Smith played Prince Dauntless, Fred’s love interest) had double rehearsals to work with each of us.”
Fryover appreciated working with Gordon, “I’m glad that Morgan was my counterpart. We’re a good balance and we had fun together.”
“Lexi and I could collaborate and give each other constructive criticism,” Gordon added. “We ran lines together and discussed how to do the scenes. It was fun for us.”
The audience appreciated their efforts with lots of laughter and standing ovations every night.
In addition to their performance, Victoria Gordon played the devious Queen Aggravain while Tucker Phelps was the mute King Sextimus. Ronald Russell as the wizard helped the queen devise tests for potential wives for Prince Dauntless, Cody Smith. Minstrel Andrew Phelps was the storyteller for the musical and combined efforts with Alex Witas, jester, to be King Sextimus’s confidantes. Supporting actresses included Brittany Wakefield, Chelsea DeRohn, Mariah Haggan, Shannon Santillo, Cheyenne Gannon, Kasey Zadakis and Kristen Arsenault. Robyn Pellerin played Sir Studly.
Behind the scenes, Samantha Higley was the stage manager and Kier Simmons was the technical director. In addition to playing Prince Dauntless, Cody Smith was the technical designer. Craig Zurhorst, the lighting director, supervised the lighting crew of Taylor Smart, Casey Child and Alex Pease. Mrs. Simmon’s theater arts class worked as stagehands and ticket takers. Everyone had a hand in set construction.