In Part 1 of a series of interviews with the director and cast of Prince George’s Little Theatre’s Once Upon a Mattress, meet Director Frank Pasqualino.
Please tell our readers about yourself and about other shows on local stage you have directed in the past year?
The last show I directed was The Game’s Afoot at The Little Theatre of Alexandria this winter. Prior to that, I actually got back on stage this past year at Port City Playhouse, playing the role of Marty in Jean Koppen’s original play, The Black Hole.
Why did you want to direct Once Upon A Mattress at PGLT?
This is a great musical that is just not done that often; that’s what really appealed to me. The show is clever and has some great comedic love songs and production numbers.
What is unique about this production of Once Upon A Mattress?
I guess the most unique aspect of this production is the fact that we are using pre-recorded music. I was skeptical at the beginning; but I’m very impressed with the quality of the recorded orchestra. Having attended so many so-so musicals at community theatre level, I believe the pre-recorded music will add a professional feel to our production.
What is your vision for this production and how have your designers brought it to life on the stage?
My vision for this show was for it to look very much like a fairy tale out of the cartoons. I designed the set to look a bit cartoonish, and I have created a storybook presentation for the opening prologue that I believe will set the tone for the whole show.
Have you worked with Musical Director Eric Small before and what impresses you most about his work for Once Upon A Mattress?
Eric is not only a fine Musical Director; he’s a bit of a computer geek… He has taken on the task of producing the recorded music in a way that I’m not sure could have been done by any other. I’m very lucky to have such a talented man holding the batton.
What has impressed most about the cast and their performances and their work in rehearsals?
What impresses me most about this cast is their willingness to work together for the good of the show. The entire cast have become a very tight knit group and an amazing ensemble; very sharing on and off stage.
Which character is most like you, and why?
Hmmm…that’s a really good question. I’m not sure I even want to answer this question considering all the characters in this play are a bit wacky to some extent. However, if I had to pick one character, I’d like to think I was most like the Jester…. He’s a funny guy, but there’s a lot more to him than what is on the surface.
Which scene is your favorite and which scene was the hardest to direct?
I honestly have so many favorite moments in the show, however, I find myself really getting a kick out of “Swamps of Home.” Meg does such a great job with this goofy song; however, it’s the Ladies in Waiting that put it over the top for me. I believe the most difficult scenes for me to direct are the ones that were not actually choreographed but required some choreographed moves I am just not a dancer. However, thank goodness I have some really talented actors who were willing to help build those scenes with me.
What is your favorite lyric or lyrics and favorite song?
My favorite lyric comes at the end of “Man to Man Talk” when Dauntless says, “Thank you father, and father I love you so.”; it really touches me. I do have two favorite songs that I find myself singing throughout the day, “Song of Love,” and “In A Little While.”
How would you describe Melissa Dunlaps’ choreography for the show?
What she has gotten out of the cast who all have various levels of dance skills is simply amazing. She’s done some really cute stuff with the cast. I am so thrilled to be working with Melissa again, after having directed her in, The Game’s Afoot last year.
How can today’s audiences relate to Once Upon A Mattress?
This is a fun show; a fractured fairy tale reminiscent of those Saturday Morning Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon fairy tales with which I grew up. I think the audiences will love the irreverence to the classical story of, The Princess and the Pea.
What’s next for you on the stage after Once Upon A Mattress?
I am very excited to be directing, To Kill A Mockingbird for The Little Theatre of Alexandria this coming Spring.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing Once Upon A Mattress?
The sheer joy of watching a classic Musical Comedy.
Once Upon a Mattress plays from September 11-26, 2015 at Prince George’s Little Theatre performing at Bowie Playhouse – 16500 White Marsh Park Drive, in Bowie, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (301) 937-7458 and press 1, at the door, or online.