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A musical comedy that parodies the well-known story of "The Princess and the Pea", Once Upon a Mattress started as a Broadway play, then later appeared as a TV special (more than once). It premiered in 1959, with music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer, and book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Marshall Barer. As The Other Wiki states, it's a popular choice for high school and community theater shows.
Its most prominent claim to fame is that it was the breakout role for actress Carol Burnett, who played the princess on Broadway, and appeared in several TV versions of the musical (though she switched to playing the Queen as she got older).
Tropes featured in this work include:
- Beta Couple - Sir Harry and Lady Larken
- Curse Escape Clause- King Sextimus the Silent is destined to be mute until the "mouse devours the hawk".
- Cut Song - "Very Soft Shoes" is cut from the television and film versions because it is a minor Big Lipped Alligator Moment. It's a singing and dancing number for the Jester that imparts some unnecessary background info on him, but it's done so late in the show that it conspicuously stops the plot.
- Everything's Better with Princesses - It's in the title. Duh.
- Gender Blender Name/Tomboyish Name - Princess Winnifred is known to her friends as Fred.
- Henpecked Husband - King Sextimus (actually, he's more hawk-pecked).
- Hey, It's That Guy! - The King was played on Broadway, and in several TV versions, by Jack Gilford (best known for his Cracker Jack commercials, and playing the cranky guy in the movie Cocoon.
- The first U.S. tour featured Buster Keaton - silent movie star - as King Sextimus.
- "I Am" Song - "Shy"
- "I Want" Song - "Happily Ever After"
- The Magnificent - Parodied, with Winnifred the Woebegone, Dauntless the Drab, and Sextimus the Silent.
- Meaningful Name - Queen Aggravaine (a portmanteau of "aggravating" and "migraine")
- Midword Rhyme - "In A Little While"
- Mistaken for Servant - Larken briefly mistakes Fred for a chambermaid. Although, to be fair, Fred was on her hands and knees wiping the floor (she had accidentally broken a vase).
- Momma's Boy - Prince Dauntless
- My Beloved Smother - Queen Aggravaine
- Plucky Girl - Princess Winnifred
- Prophecies Rhyme All the Time - "Throughout the land no one may wed / 'Til Dauntless shares his wedding bed."
- Also, "King Sextimus shall never talk/Until the mouse devours the hawk."
- Shotgun Wedding
- The Talk - has its own musical number; unique in that the King can't speak, and has to do the whole thing in pantomime.
- ~Truck Driver's Gear Change~ - "Song of Love" is full of them.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl - Fred and Larken, respectively
- Villain Song - "Sensitivity," though Your Mileage May Vary to consider it this trope it certainly has the feel of a villain song.
- ~Wasn't That Fun?~ - at the end of the Spanish Panic, all the dancers but Fred have collapsed:
Queen: Are you feeling a little weary, dear?
- Wedlock Block: Nobody is allowed to marry until Dauntless does.