THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Thursday, May 18, 1972
Paae To THEMICHIAN DALY-ThusdayMay-1,-197
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By JAN BENEDETTI
During the late '50s and early
'60s, there was a new develop-
ment on the American musical
comedy scene: the "little musi-
cal." Examples of this genre
included shows like "The Fan-
tasticks" and "Little Mary Sun-
shine." These "little musicals"
are a 11 light, unpretentious
shows with slender plots.
One of the major members of
this group is "Once Upon a
Mattress," currently being 'pre-
sented by the Ann Arbor Civic
Theatre at Lydia Mendelssohn
"Mattress," which in the orig-
inal version marked the first im-
portant showcase for a young
Carol Burnett, is a musical ver-
sion of the legend of "The Prin-
cess and the Pea." In that story, r
as you recall, the prospective
bride of the prince had to be so I
sensitive that she could feel one t
single pea, buried under twenty
mattresses. If she detected the l
presence of the pea, she passed f
the sensitivity test and could
marry the prince.
The legend is changed a bit'1
in "Mattress" since the princess 1
is a more robust candidate call-
ed Winifred the Woebegone
(nicknamed Fred). But Fred
wins the sensitivity test finally
-after overcoming a few ob-
Joan Susswein, in the key role
of Fred, needs to learn the es-
sential worth of underplaying in,
comedy. Comedy is not the art;
of beating lines to death. Suss-
wein, though a good performer,
seems to be trying to show theN
audience how hard she can workC
by throwing herself into everyh
number, instead of trying a little s
more subtlety. C
Judy Riecker, who plays the t
Queen, is adequate in her role
as a stereotyped, dominatingC
martyr-mother who gets her just a
reward in the final scene.
Kurt Lauer, playing Prince
Dauntless, is perfect as the
dumb prince who wins Fred.
Shuffling about with his wistful
looks, he serves as a good foil
for Susswein's exuuberance.
Charles Sutherland, playing Sir
Harry, handles the acting well,
but seems to be troubled by a
voice that is a little shaky.
The ensemble numbers are
good, giving the chorus the xind
of jubilant dancing that is fun
to watch and looks like fun to do.
In short, Civic Theatre's pro-
duction of "Once Upon a Mat-
tress" is a nice, light bit of
whimsy, suited to a pleasant
The Michigan Daily, edited and man-
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