Once Upon A Mattress - October 14 - October 17, 2021

Riverside Poly High School

 End Notes 

Director's Notes


The original Broadway production of Once Upon A Mattress opened off-Broadway May 11, 1959, and was an instant hit. It quickly moved to Broadway later that year. Although Carol Burnett was a rising television star, this show brought her national acclaim and pushed her career into overdrive. She left the show a few months into the run, after her nomination for Best Actress in a Musical, and she was replaced by Anne B. Davis. Ms. Davis was later made famous as the maid Alice in The Brady Bunch. There have been many television adaptations, most recently in 2005 starring Tracy Ulman as Winnifred, and a much older Carol Burnett as the Queen. 


Written and composed in part by Mary Rogers, the daughter of Richard Rogers of Rogers and Hammerstein fame. Mary would also write the screenplay for the original Freaky Friday and collaborate on the seminal musical, Working. 


I have a long history with this show- I performed this show at Marina High School in 1980, where I performed as the Jester. It is also the production where I met my wife; we celebrate 42 years together this January! I have also teched this show, as well as produced a 15 minute cut from the show (directed by our own Kristen Walton!) for Shades of Broadway in 2016. 


In working with the times in which our students live, this production has worked in an unusual angle; the world of this Once Upon A Mattress inhabits an alternative world where the medieval world and the modern world cross pathes throughout the show!


I am so excited to have had the opportunity to dive into this show once again; I had such an amazing cast and crew with whom to collaborate. And collaborate we did! The first act was directed by Betty Calderon and the second act was directed by Quinn Velez-Pollard, with selected scenes being directed by me and Kristen Walton (who also performed this show in high school- Ramona to be exact- where she played Larken). Our set was designed, and the construction was led, by Chad Saylor with enormous help from Andrew Callow and Aaliyah Artry. Choreography was shared by two incredibly talented artists; Evelyn Yohonn, an alumni who lost her opportunity to choreograph her senior year (Covid closure year), and Twila Fraser-Hewlett, who was able to juggle her crazy schedule, a lead in the show, and still develop and teach dances for the production. Kaitlyn Mann, who has taken on the role of Costume Head, created with her crew such an enchanting and funky design. And all of this craziness was corralled by the very capable Aaliyah Artry, our Stage Manager extraordinaire! And, thank you to this amazing cast, and capable crew, for being so anxious to work tirelessly to bring Musical Theatre back to the Poly campus!


I would like to acknowledge the years of work, planning, and countless hours that created our newest performance space- The Polywood Bowl (naming credits to our AP, Laura Nelson). Thank you to our School Board, and especially Kathy Allavie, for their vision and support of the Arts, to Dr. Michael Roe for shepherding the original plans, and Darel Hanson and James Vaughn for their patient and consistent leadership in making sure the Bowl was a place for the Arts to thrive. 


Thank you, and a congratulations, to the newly minted “Doctor” Andrea Decker (UCR Doctor of Ethnomusicology)- this is the third Poly musical in which she has given her deep and amazing talent.  I continue to be so impressed with her ability to meet our kids right where they are and is then able to move them to where they need to be, seemingly without effort.  A huge thank you to Poly’s Choir Director, Kristen Walton, for directing and working with our cast, especially our Sir Harry and Lady Larkens. Another thank you (John, I am at dozens of these now over the years ) to Mr. John Enyeart for his video crew work on recording and streaming the show. Over the last few years, we have been so fortunate to have had the expertise, knowledge and dedication of Jessica McCarty, who helped shepherd our stage technology into the 2020’s. Jessica, thank you. 


Finally, I’d like to extend my deepest appreciation to my family. They put up with, and actively support, the crazy hours and constant demands of this career that I love. I would like to especially acknowledge the love of my life, Deana, who does so much behind the scenes, and makes what I do here possible. Deana, your Jester and his Very Soft Shoes love you all the way to Normandy and back.


Chris MarkerMorse, October 14, 2021



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