Monday, December 19, 2005

"Once Upon A Mattress"

One of the fun things about doing a Google Image search of a show is that you find tons of amateur production photos. So along with, say, Carol Burnett in a role, you get to see some 7th grader from Hackensack in her Queen Agravaine costume for "Once Upon A Mattress."

Speaking of which, the 2005 version of "Mattress" that aired last night on ABC, was a big Disney disappointment. The cast did their best (Zooey Deschanel was just miscast) but the director, although accomplished on Broadway, had no idea how to make the piece funny or charming.

Carol Burnett, so wonderfully Grand Guignol as the dastardly Miss Hannigan in the film version of "Annie," looked hilarious in big Bob Mackie costumes but was directed to be so subdued that it killed all the humor of her role, or most of it. Tommy Smothers, as the silent king Sextimus, was also misdirected -- especially in the final moment of the show during the reversal of the curse. In the show he's a devoted skirt-chaser and clown; in this version, just a pleasant, mild-mannered mute. Not funny, and what a waste of the great Smothers!

Other important secondary roles were cut to bits, and Tracy Ullman, doing her frenetic best to make Winnifred the Woebegon into a loveable madcap heroine, was just okay.

The evening was not at all a waste, though, as I got to sit up with one of my oldest and best pals in the world and wrap Christmas and Hanukah gifts. That was very much fun, and hard to believe, since it seems only yesterday that we were buying each other Lip Smackers and starter stud earrings for Christmas.


Blogger said...

What's wrong with Zooey? I loved her voice.

Blogger PeaceBang said...

Hi! Welcome to PeaceBang! My thing with Zooey is that she had terrible diction and but she was too casual and unrefined for Lady Larkin. I liked her voice but did you notice how much they brought the key down for her? The whole humor of Larkin's predicament is that she's supposed to be deliciously proper, ever the perfect, pristine lady-in-waiting and the opposite of Winnifred, and Zooey was not. It didn't help that her Harry played it so straight and didn't at all overdo the knightly honor thing at all (I like to see him played almost as broadly as one of the Princes in "Into the Woods" -- totally dead serious and hilariously chivalric).

So Zooey, for all her huge, beautiful blue eyes, left me unimpressed as Lady L.


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