FAIRFIELD — Not having any spoken lines in a play seems a pretty easy role.
But not if you are King Sextimus, the Silent, in “Once Upon a Mattress.”
While his fellow cast mates have been focusing on dialogue, actor Derek Karamin has been honing his moves as the royal male.
“To the average person, seeing Derek do this, he looks like a crazy person,” said Karamin’s longtime pal, Curt Thompson, who plays the wizard in the upcoming Missouri Street Theatre production.
“Once Upon a Mattress” is an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, “The Princess and the Pea.”
The story centers on Prince Dauntless, who is in search of a bride. After all, the marriage law of the land states that no one may wed until the prince shares his marriage bed. Enter some humor for the adults in the audience as well as plenty of physical gags to entertain the children.
Thompson most recently did Shakespeare. Musicals were a little outside his comfort zone, he said. “Once Upon a Mattress” has more than 20 songs. But he’s having a blast.
“There’s more than one ‘wink, wink, nod, nod’ joke (in the show),” Thompson said.
Like other cast members, he is happy to do a Scrooge-free show during the holidays. “Scrooge” and “A Christmas Carol” are great classics, but breaking the holiday tradition is fun, too, Thompson said.
On a recent night, the cast lined up in the downtown theater lobby rehearsing the macarena, led by Ethan Bell, who is playing the jester. There was plenty of laughter as cast members practiced.
“Each day this show grows on me more,” said Dae Spering, who is playing Princess Winifred and co-directing with Staci Arriaga. “It’s perfect for the family.”
Doing a non-themed holiday show has also given Spering and Missouri Street Theatre a little more flexibility in scheduling. “Once Upon a Mattress” can run beyond Christmas Day.
“What better gift than live theater?” she said, rhetorically.
The show has about 25 cast members, including the ensemble.
“Once Upon a Mattress” opened off-Broadway in 1959. Carol Burnett and Sarah Jessica Parker have played Princess Winifred in previous stage versions.
In 2005, “The Wonderful World of Disney” aired a television version that featured Carol Burnett as the queen.
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