A lovesick nobleman wants a wife. His mother, the Queen, wants her power and her kingdom. So, in order to marry the prince, princesses must pass difficult tests that send most dainty royals running. That is, until Princess Winniefred shows up. See how the story unfolds at Appoquinimink High School tonight and this weekend.

After three months of rehearsals, the curtain will finally go up for nearly 80 students who have been working to bring “Once Upon a Mattress” to the stage.

The production, a light-hearted fun musical re-telling of “The Princess and the Pea” features 14 songs as well as characters both cliché and refreshing. There’s an overbearing queen, a (literally) mute king, a wimpy prince, a comical jester, a minstrel with a penchant for stories and more than a few pretty ladies-in-waiting and handsome knights.

Graphics teacher Elise Knable, Drama Instructor Nicole Fox and English Teacher Amanda Wlock all took on directing duties to see the large production come to life.

“We all chose ‘Once Upon a Mattress’ because we wanted something fun and engaging to the audience,” Knable said. “I always tell the students we live in a dark enough world as it is so let’s find a way to bring happiness and enjoyment to our audience, even if it’s only for the duration of the show.”


Many of the students involved—Senior Emily Donahue, Senior Marc Christian, Senior Nick Michael, Senior Kellina Moore and Senior Ben Janocha—have been participating in drama classes and productions since their freshman year.

“Many of the students have blown us away with their characterization and portrayal of storybook characters that could be very cookie cutter,” Knable said. “Instead, they have all taken the lessons they have learned and pushed themselves to be the best that they can.”

Some of the shock also comes from watching the younger students, too.

“Many of the freshman in the show are also extremely talented,” she added. “It’s exciting to see a passion for theater passed on through generations of students.”

Showing up for rehearsals and learning lines is only one part of the production, though. Sets also have to be built and costumes have to be made. To get the set done, a group of students, teachers and relatives dedicated several Saturdays to construction. So, much of what makes up the castle and all its royal accessories have breathed life into other stories as well. Costuming is done by a devoted group of women, many of whom do not have children in the cast, like Fox’s mother and aunt. The school’s textile instructor, Mrs. Lemmons, also plays a large part in costume development. Knable said that she and her co-directors are completely grateful to all of the parents and non-parents who step in and are willing to help.


Curtains go up tonight and while everyone is dealing with nerves, last minute catastrophes and all the small details that can make a show great, Knable said the co-directors are simply trying to remind the students about what’s important: the memories they are making.  Of course, as teachers, they all feel like theater is an essential aspect of the high school experience for those who want to be a part of it but they also want the kids to have the same kinds of memories they do about their own days in drama.

“We always tell our students that it was our theater experiences that we will always remember when we look back at high school,” Knable explained, adding that she and Fox actually went to high school together and also did shows together as well. “We want our students to have the same chance here [at AHS]. Every student deserves to find their niche in high school and providing a theater program gives the students who are thespians at heart that chance.”