ACHS reawakens theater program with 'Once Upon a Mattress'

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Senni Bloom, 18, of Ventnor gets the support of the cast while playing Princess Winnifred. Senni Bloom, 18, of Ventnor gets the support of the cast while playing Princess Winnifred.

ATLANTIC CITY – The Viking Players will bring the fairy tale “Once Upon a Mattress” to life April 25-27.

Atlantic City High School has revived its theater program after a three-year hiatus under the direction of English and theater arts teacher Ryan Daly and 25 dedicated student-actors.

“It’s pretty fun, and it’s a nice experience,” Daly said at rehearsal Tuesday, April 23. “They are a pretty good group of kids, and they enjoy doing it – even for some who are doing it for the first time.”

Daly said he has been acting in the area since 1996 with a variety of community and college theater groups, but this is his first time directing a musical. He said he happily volunteered when he heard of the revival of the theater program.

His goal for the show is to put on a quality production and allow the kids to have fun while expressing themselves.

“The main reason we’re doing it is for the kids,” Daly said. “I think it’s important to the curriculum. It’s a good skill for them to have to be able to get in front of their peers public speaking.”

The story is loosely based on “The Princess and the Pea” and is set in a kingdom where Queen Aggravain has forbidden anyone to marry until to her son, Prince Dauntless, finds a bride. However, when Lady Larken becomes pregnant, she convinces Sir Harry to embark on a journey to find the price a princess.

Sir Harry, portrayed by Yonah Bromberg-Gaber, 17, of Margate, listens as Alexandra Gonzalez of Atlantic City, playing Lady Larken, explains why he needs to find a princess for Dauntless. Sir Harry, portrayed by Yonah Bromberg-Gaber, 17, of Margate, listens as Alexandra Gonzalez of Atlantic City, playing Lady Larken, explains why he needs to find a princess for Dauntless.

Yonah Bromberg Gaber, 17, of Margate is one of two students cast in the role of Sir Harry. He will perform Thursday, April 25.

The son of Aaron Gaber and Sharon Bromberg said he is currently acting in “Number the Stars” at Beth Judah in Ventnor.

“When I saw a chance to be in the school’s musical I was excited,” he said. “I’m a junior now, so this is definitely something I missed the last few years.”

Bromberg Gaber said his character is the most interesting he has every played. He said Sir Harry is self-righteous and nearly the opposite of himself.

“His lines are blatantly chauvinistic. He blames Lady Larken for getting pregnant. The first time I had to do the lines it was hard for me to spit out my lines and say them properly.”

Sir Harry returns with Princess Winnifred, played by Senni Bloom of Ventnor, who is so excited to arrive that she swims the castle moat.

Bloom, 18, the daughter of Aino and Richard Bloom, said the weightlifting, beer-chugging tomboy princess is her complete opposite.

She said the musical gives her a chance to do what she loves best: perform.

“If we had the play every year I was here, I would have done it,” Bloom said. “I will take any opportunity to showcase my voice.”

A senior who plans to attend Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., to pursue a music career, she is involved in cross country at Atlantic City High School, sings at the Margate Community Church and volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club in Atlantic City and her mother’s charity, Everyone’s Children. She works at Scout Clothing and Décor and sometimes sings during its coffeehouse nights.

“I think it’s important to support the arts. If I didn’t do this production I wouldn’t have met anyone in this play.”

Bloom said her favorite song in the show is “Happily Ever After” because it’s an opportunity for her to sing with more emotion rather than tell a story through the lyrics.

As a singer, her influences are Pink and Carrie Underwood.

“As artists and human beings,” Bloom said. “Today, when celebrities are famous for doing nothing, these girls work hard for what they got.”

She said doing the play has been a valuable experience.

“It’s a shame it’s my last play here, but this production is awesome. I have never worked with such a talented cast. These kids work really hard,” Bloom said. “I’m surrounded by people who care and know how you feel. It’s nice to be with kids who share the same aspirations and dreams. If I didn’t do it, I would have regretted it.”

Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday plus a 2:30 p.m. matinee Saturday in the Atlantic City High School Performing Arts Center in J-wing. Tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for students.

The cast of Atlantic City High School’s production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ The cast of Atlantic City High School’s production of ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’


 

Cast list

Princess Winnifred – Senni Bloom

Sir Harry – Yonah Bromberg Gaber (Thursday) and Ray Lopez

Prince Dauntless – Jackson Anoine

Lady Larken – Alexandra Gonzalez and Katie Lund

King Sextimus the Silent – Michael Lee

Queen Aggravain – Kristen Church

Jester – Edger Guardarrama

Minstrel – Steve Mathios

Wizard – Eric Haney

Princess No. 12 – Paulette Lopez

Lady Rowena – Molly Ludwig

Lady Merril – Amy Nguyen

Lady Lucille – Romie Stotts

Ensemble: Alex Rodriguez, Adony Luengas, Jose Zuniga, Naja Long, Hashley Chery, Sasha Harrison, Daisy Zamora, Kimberly Santana, Samantha LeRoy, Jillian Man and Rachel Pettinelli.

Ryan Daly is the director, Jefferson Heller is the chirographer, Euna Ji does costumes and makeup, Joy Mintines is the stage manager, Bob Mast is the set constructor, Lisa Tee is the musical director and musicians are Jim Daly, Dean Scarpa and Ethan Tinkler. 

Photos by Shaun Smith Senni Bloom, 18, of Ventnor portrays Princess Winnifred in the Atlantic City High School production ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Senni Bloom, 18, of Ventnor portrays Princess Winnifred in the Atlantic City High School production ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’   Sir Harry, portrayed by Yonah Bromberg-Gaber, 17, of Margate, listens as Alexandra Gonzalez of Atlantic City, playing Lady Larken, explains why he needs to find a princess for Dauntless. Sir Harry, portrayed by Yonah Bromberg-Gaber, 17, of Margate, listens as Alexandra Gonzalez of Atlantic City, playing Lady Larken, explains why he needs to find a princess for Dauntless.   Sir Harry, portrayed by Yonah Bromberg-Gaber, 17, of Margate, listens as Alexandra Gonzalez of Atlantic City, playing Lady Larken, explains why he needs to find a princess for Dauntless. Sir Harry, portrayed by Yonah Bromberg-Gaber, 17, of Margate, listens as Alexandra Gonzalez of Atlantic City, playing Lady Larken, explains why he needs to find a princess for Dauntless.   Princess Winnifred, played by Senni Bloom, 18, of Ventnor, emerges from the moat and makes an impression on Dauntless, played by Jackson Anitone of Atlantic City.  Princess Winnifred, played by Senni Bloom, 18, of Ventnor, emerges from the moat and makes an impression on Dauntless, played by Jackson Anitone of Atlantic City.


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