Sleepless in Ripley

RIPLEY – If you ever have a tough problem to solve, conventional wisdom is to sleep on it.
Not so fast, because a comfortable night’s sleep won’t help Winnifred the Woebegone in Ripley Arts Council’s production of “Once Upon a Mattress.”
The Dixie Theatre stage is piled high with multi-colored mattresses designed to test Winnifred’s royal disposition when the show opens on Tuesday.
If she sleeps through the night, that’ll mean “Fred” didn’t feel the tiny pea placed between the mattresses. And if she doesn’t feel the pea, that means she isn’t suitable to marry Dauntless the Drab.
It’s all part of evil Queen Aggravain’s plan to keep Dauntless to herself.
“It’s fun to be wicked,” said Carrie Simpson, who plays Aggravain. “It’s better being bad.”
At the start of the story, Aggravain has run off plenty of other suitors, then Fred, “the swamp princess,” shows up at court wet from swimming through the moat.
“She sings a song about being shy,” said Natalie Bullard, who plays Winnifred, “but she’s not shy, and I’m not either.”
So Aggravain’s test appears to be a slam-dunk, especially if you’ve never heard or read Hans Christian Andersen’s story, “The Princess in the Pea,” the basis for the musical.
Of course, you also could have caught “Once Upon a Mattress” in one of its many performances over the years.
“It’s one of the most-performed musicals at the community, high school and college theater levels,” said Lynn Hill, director.
Carol Burnett originated the role of Winnifred 50 years ago, so this is an anniversary year.
“We got one night royalty-free because it’s the 50th anniversary of the production,” said Bob Glover, president of Ripley Arts Council.
In addition to a mixture of comedy and entertaining songs, Ripley’s production of “Once Upon a Mattress” features sumptuous costumes and colorful sets designed to transport audiences to a fairy tale land, where a bad night’s sleep is a good thing.
“It’s a comedy for all ages,” Bullard said, “and it’s very whimsical.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or

You’re invited

– Ripley Arts Council’s “Once Upon a Mattress”

– When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday

– Where: Dixie Theatre, Ripley

– Tickets: $10/adults, $5/students

– Info: (662) 993-2787

Read more: – Ripley Arts Council presents Once Upon a Mattress

M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

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