(3/25) This month, Catoctin High School will present their annual spring musical, and several Emmitsburg teens are taking part in a big way. Once Upon A Mattress is a hilarious re-telling of The Princess and the Pea, and is set in a far-away kingdom where a wicked queen holds on to her power by refusing to allow her son to marry. All the princesses in the land come to try
to win the prince, only to be ruled-out by the queen’s impossible tests.
Into the royal court comes the loud, adorable Princess Winifred the Woebegone (aka Princess Fred) played by sophomore Megan Kelly. Megan, who has lived in Emmitsburg for five years, is no stranger to the local stage. Having performed in several shows at Thurmont Middle School, she started landing leading roles as soon as she moved up to Catoctin. Named "Rookie of the Year"
by the drama department last year, she also received a "Best Performance in a Leading Role" nod for her turn as the deadly Papa Ge in Once On This Island. Kelly’s powerful alto singing voice combined with great stage presence make her Princess Fred a comedic heroine to root for. Per Kelly, "Fred is a great role and is a lot of fun to play. In one of my favorite songs, I get to run around on stage
singing at the top of my lungs that, deep down, I’m terribly shy!"
Another sophomore, Maggie Kaetzel, plays Lady Larken, who desperately wants to get married, but can’t until the prince does. Maggie has lived in Emmitsburg for nine years and is also a TMS drama alum, having played Dorothy (opposite Kelly’s Wicked Witch) in The Wizard of Oz. Like Kelly, Kaetzel has also quickly become a major part of the drama program at CHS, having landed
roles in every show since she started her freshman year, which surprised even her. "I was very surprised because I was a freshman and I figured that lead roles were impossible for me." Kaetzel’s soaring soprano singing voice has also won her coveted spots in All County and All State Choruses for several years.
Junior Robin Wivell, an Emmitsburg resident for seven years, is playing the comedic role of King Sextimus. The role of the king is an iconic one in musical theater. He has some of the best lines in the show…but doesn’t speak! His character has been struck mute by a curse and he spends nearly the entire performance pantomiming everything from jokes, to musical numbers, to a
discussion of the birds-and-the-bees with his son. Says Wivell, "This is the first time I’ve ever had a role where I haven’t been able to speak, so using motions to portray what I’m trying to get across to the audience and the other characters has been a challenge." Wivell credits a unit on pantomime, taught in the school’s drama class by teacher Karen Stitely, for helping him prepare for this
Though she has performed in several productions since her freshman year, senior Brittany Beene is wearing a different hat this time. The Drama Club president, Beene is also the student director of Once Upon A Mattress, and is using the skills she’s learned in previous shows and in drama class to help her guide her fellow classmates. Beene is convinced that her experience
in drama will help her with all aspects of her future. "You learn skills in here that you can use for almost any kind of job. Being in the performing arts makes you think on your feet."
Maggie Kaetzel, Megan Kelly
The youngest member of the Emmitsburg group is Maddie Weigelt, a freshman who also came from a strong theater background at TMS. Weigelt plays one of the ladies of the court, and is also the lovely Nightingale of Samarkand. Weigelt has enjoyed her Catoctin experience so far, crediting Mrs. Stitely, with a great introduction to high school dramatics. "Mrs. Stitely has been
great. She knows so much about a variety of shows and different styles and makes it all so much fun."
Though they are playing different roles, all of these talented teens have the same request of the community. "Please come see the show and support CHS drama," says Wivell. Beene adds, "Bringing your kids out to see the show is a good way to get them interested in the arts. Plus it’s a lot of fun!" Weigelt concurs. "Mattress is hilarious, all of the characters were
perfectly cast and everyone will have a great time with the jokes and music." And, per Kelly, "Financial support for the arts has taken a major hit in recent years. We’ve worked really hard on this show and would truly appreciate having supportive audiences to entertain."
Once Upon A Mattress will be performed at the Catoctin High School auditorium Thursday-Saturday, April 12-14, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.00 and discount coupons will be available to local middle and elementary students. For more information, contact Mrs. Stitely at 240-236-8100.