The whimsical musical comedy Once Upon a Mattress, which features music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer and a book by Barer, first played Off-Broadway in 1959 before transferring to Broadway that same year. It was nominated for five Tony Awards and famously made a bonafide star of its lead actress, Carol Burnett as Princess Winnifred. The cast of The Transport Group's whimsical revival, which officially opens Dec. 13, reveal their connections to the show and what's under their beds.
Jackie Hoffman was approached to do the show by John "Lypsinka" Epperson in 2013 and starred in The Transport Group's concert revival that same year. "John created a monster but it's too late. I've been unleashed."
What's under her bed: A huge bottle of Ambien.
Most precious possession she'd hide under her mattress: My Dolce and Gabbana coat, which would keep me awake because the rhinestone buckles are very sharp.
Epperson spearheaded the concert revival in 2013, having approached Transport's artistic director Jack Cummings III with the idea. "The first time I ever heard of this show was when Carol Burnett did it on television in 1964. I saw that production and remembered it when I got to college at age 17. The first day of school there was an audition announcement for the show...I had no training, so with nothing but desire and fear I auditioned and was cast in the ensemble."
What's under his bed: This is going to sound terrible. My apartment is not tiny but it's not huge either and I have so many press clippings that I keep a lot of them under my bed.
Most precious possession he'd hide under his mattress: The ring that my grandmother gave me.
Like a handful of the other cast members, Once Upon a Mattress was Hunter Ryan Herdlicka's first show as a young musical theatre devotee. "It's really special to me...I was a sixth-grader, really overweight with cat-eye glasses and pimples and the leading man of the show. It was that moment where I knew I wanted to be an actor, so it has an amazing place in my heart. I remember driving to rehearsal with my mom and playing the cast album. It was one of the first albums I ever owned."
What's under his bed: My cowboy boots because I'm from Texas and some baseball caps, which I'm rarely brave enough to wear.
Most precious possession he'd hide under his mattress: Probably a piece of artwork that I own. It's an original sketch that I have by Noel Coward that became the poster for the musical Sail Away.
Once Upon a Mattress was Jessica Fontana's first ever musical when she was in the ninth grade, in the role of Princess Winnifred. "That was my first introduction to musical theatre and I listened to that cast recording all the time when I was 14. It's great to come back and do it now; I love it, the music is so beautiful and it's funny and sweet."
What's under her bed: I have suitcases full of other clothes and shoes.
Most precious possession she'd hide under her mattress: My wedding ring. I'm very particular about where I put it; I just got married so I'm not putting it anywhere.
Zak Resnick worked on the comedy when he was 14 years old as a spotlight operator in a local production in Richmond, VA. "I got to know the show and music pretty well when I was 14. This is the second incarnation in my life and I'm happy to be on the other side of the spotlight...It's so nice to come to a show that's really light-hearted and fun and we don't have to take ourselves too seriously. We just get to make people laugh and make buffoons of ourselves."
What's under his bed: It's New York City so all of the stuff that I can't keep around my house: my suitcases, my Christmas ornaments, nothing really that fun! Actually my dog likes to sit under my mattress a lot, I think he thinks it's cozy.
Most precious possession he'd hide under his mattress: My dog, a little ten-pound poodle called Henry.
Jason SweetTooth Williams had seen a community theatre production of Once Upon a Mattress when he was younger and was familiar with the more well-known musical numbers from the show like "Shy." "I never in a million years thought that I'd be asked to play a prince so I'm riding high on that for a little while."
What's under his bed: I'm expecting my first child in December so right now my wife and I have been trying to cram our entire lives — with expecting a baby — into a one-bedroom apartment. Under my bed, I probably have most things that are important to me including bags of diapers that we've been hoarding for the past six months.
Most precious possession he'd hide under his mattress: Can I put people under there or will that kill them? It seems like such an obvious answer but I'll go with my wedding ring.
Jay Rogers has a long-running relationship with fellow Mississippi native Epperson, who was his connection to the production. "It's a classic and you can't beat that...and working with John, we're just old vaudevillians. He brings out the worst and the best in me depending on how you look at it."
What's under his bed: We keep all things flat that my husband and I collect, like posters.
Most precious possession he'd hide under his mattress: I guess it would be my darling and my wedding ring.
The cast of Once Upon a Mattress also features David Greenspan as The King and Cory Lingner as The Jester, along with Vivienne Cleary, Richard Costa, Michael De Souza, Tim Dolan, Jack Donahue, Amy Griffin, Sarah Killough, Kristen Michelle, Ali Reed and Doug Shapiro. Performances run through Jan. 3, 2016 at the Abrons Arts Center. For more information and to purchase tickets visit TransportGroup.org.