In Part 4 of a series of interviews with the director and cast of Prince George’s Little Theatre’s Once Upon a Mattress, meet Ken Kemp.
Joel: Tell our readers where they may have seen you on local stages.
Most recently, I was seen at Silver Spring Stage, playing Hupfer the Tailor and Bodelheimer the Randy Coachman in Tom Stoppard’s On the Razzle. Over the last 15 years I’ve appeared at most of the community theatres in the DMV, in various roles.
Tell us about the character you play and how you relate to him. Does this character have any of your personality or character traits?
I play The Minstrel, who basically narrates the story. I’m reprising this role, having played it about 14 years ago at The Montgomery Playhouse. He’s a man of the world with a sense of fun and adventure, which I can definitely relate to – and he doesn’t take anything too seriously.
What has been the most fun playing this character?
There’s a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor in this show – it’s basically a musical version of one of those “fractured fairy tales” they used to tell on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show – and we have a very talented cast that really taps into that vibe. It’s been a lot of fun watching the other cast members bring the show to life.
What have been some of the challenges you have had preparing for your role and how did your director help you with these challenges?
The biggest challenge is adding depth to characters, without making them caricatures – and Frank (our director) has a good touch for making things zany, without going over the top. He’s also given us a lot of freedom to find our own ways to play our parts.
Which character in the show is most like you, and why?
I think the character I’m playing is most like me – he’s always in the middle of the action, making sure everyone is having a good time, moving things along.
What do you admire most about your fellow cast members?
Without a doubt, it’s the depth and range of talents. From our first read-thru, it was obvious there was a lot of talent in this cast, and we’ve really meshed together beautifully. We’ve got an incredibly talented ensemble that is critical to the action, and they sing and dance with incredible style and grace. In addition, it’s a multi-generational cast, and even though we’re a group of people from a lot of age ranges we really enjoy being around on another.
What do you want audiences to take with them after watching you perform in Once Upon a Mattress?
It’s a fun, feel good story with a happy ending. There are a lot of songs that you’ll find yourself humming as you leave the theatre. Hopefully, it’s the kind of show that people will just relax, enjoy, and have a good time watching.
What is your favorite line that your character says? What is your favorite line that another character says?
My favorite line for my own character is: “Sir Harry – you’re a fathead!” – it always gets a laugh. There are a ton of great lines in the show, but I’d have to say that Meg Nemeth, who plays Princess Winifred, has some of the best lines in the show, and she has an amazing sense of comic timing and delivery. Meg’s worth the price of admission, all by herself.
Once Upon a Mattress plays through September 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.
Meet the Director and Cast of Prince George’s Little Theatre’s ‘Once Upon a Mattress’: Part 1: Director Frank Pasqualino.
Meet the Director and Cast of Prince George’s Little Theatre’s ‘Once Upon a Mattress’: Part 2: Meg Nemeth and Mike Culhane.
Meet the Director and Cast of Prince George’s Little Theatre’s ‘Once Upon a Mattress’: Part 3: Linda Swann and John Shackleford.
Meet the Director and Cast of Prince George’s Little Theatre’s ‘Once Upon a Mattress’: Part 4: Ken Kemp.
Meet the Director and Cast of Prince George’s Little Theatre’s ‘Once Upon a Mattress’: Part 5: Erin Paluchowski and John Culhane.
Review of Once Upon a Mattress by Danielle Angeline on DCMetroTheaterArts.