Jackie Hoffman (The Addams Family, Xanadu, Hairspray) starred as Princess Winnifred with John “Lypsinka” Epperson (My Deah, I Could Go On Lip-Synching! "Black Swan") as The Queen Aggravain. Transport Group artistic director Jack Cummings III directed the 7 PM concert.
Jackie Hoffman, John "Lypsinka" Epperson and David Rossmer in Once Upon a Mattress Benefit Reading
Joining the two artists on stage were Bob Walton as King Sextimus, Jeffrey Kuhn as The Jester, Jill Paice as Lady Larken, Drama Desk nominee Lewis Cleale as Sir Harry, Obie winner Jonathan Hammond as The Wizard, Stanley Bahorek as The Minstrel and Drama Desk nominee David Rossmer as Prince Dauntless.
The evening also featured a ten-person orchestra conducted by Matt Castle as well as a 14-person ensemble featuring Lisa Asher, Zach Bencal, Clinton Clark, Vivienne Cleary, Michael De Souza, Tom Dolen, Frank Galgano, Jessica Hershberg, Danette Holden, Kristen Michelle, Gayla Morgan, Kurt Robbins, Doug Shapiro and Maureen Taylor.
Composer Mary Rodgers was on hand for a post-performance discussion of the 1959 musical that has lyrics by Marshall Barer and a book by Barer, Dean Fuller and Jay Thompson. "Like millions of others over the last 54 years, Once Upon A Mattress is one of my favorite musicals—so, when John Epperson approached me with the inspired idea of Jackie Hoffman as Princess Winnifred and himself as The Queen Aggravain, I jumped at the chance. The score and book are both brilliantly hilarious and heartfelt. And we are absolutely honored and thrilled that Mary Rodgers will be joining us to talk with the audience afterwards and celebrate this show that has given endless joy to countless generations," Cummings said in an earlier statement.
According to the Transport Group, "In the fairy-tale world of Once Upon A Mattress, King Sextimus is unable to speak and his terror of a wife, Queen Aggravain, has taken over control of the kingdom. Most importantly, in an attempt to keep Prince Dauntless single, she has decreed that only the princess that can pass her test may marry her son. Further, no one else in the kingdom may marry until Prince Dauntless does. Lady Larken and Sir Harry are extremely disturbed by this fact since Lady Larken is now pregnant with Sir Harry's baby. Luckily, Sir Harry is able to find an amazing princess, Winnifred the Woebegone. Winnifred instantly catches the attention of Prince Dauntless, and in the end, is able to pass the Queen's supposedly impassable sensitivity test. When the Queen still tries to prevent Prince Dauntless from marrying, he tells her to 'shut up' which ends up breaking the curse on the King. Now able to speak, King Sextimus regains his rightful position as leader of the kingdom, and all live happily ever after."