DATE: February 27, 2017
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer, 434-972-4049
–or– Tim Shea, Legislative and Public Affairs Officer, 434-975-9452

Western Albemarle Players Present a Spring Musical Guaranteed to Add a Bounce to Your Step, March 16-18

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – It was the show that catapulted the legendary comedienne and actress Carol Burnett to fame when she appeared in the leading role on Broadway, and it since has become one of the most popular musicals for high school and community theater artists across the nation.

Once Upon a Mattress is coming to Western Albemarle High School beginning Thursday, March 16, with a special benefit performance in memory of the school’s former choir director, the late Eric Betthauser. Admission to this final dress rehearsal will be by donation, with proceeds going to a scholarship fund for students from the school’s drama choir.

Based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale, The Princess and the Pea, the show follows the efforts of a prince to find a wife, only to be frustrated at every turn by his demanding, difficult mother, the Queen. In a tried and true American tale of the power of a common touch, the prince and the kingdom fall in love with a down-to-earth princess who brings no royal bearings to her role.

“It’s a timeless and beautiful message,” says Caitlin Pitts, the school’s drama teacher and the director of the musical. “It’s about the importance of kindness and empathy in relationships and the lift of a positive work ethic. The audience is guaranteed to leave the theater with an optimistic view of life,” she added.

The show features 50 Western Albemarle students in the cast with another 35 students in support roles.

“These young men and women are incredibly talented. Their actions and enthusiasm on stage communicate true joy to the audience,” Pitts noted. “We had the opportunity last year to visit Broadway, and many of these students developed a strong sense of maturity and purpose about the theater. It comes through in this show,” she concluded.

In addition to the March 16 benefit performance at the high school, which begins at 7:30 p.m., the show’s opening night is St. Patrick’s Day, Friday, March 17, also at 7:30. The run concludes with two Saturday performances on March 18, a matinee at 2 p.m. and a show at 7:30 that evening.

Tickets are priced for students and seniors at $6 in advance and $8 at the door. Tickets for adults are $12 in advance and $14 at the door. Tickets are available online at

Residents can gain a sneak preview of the performance at ArtFest in the West, which takes place on Friday, March 3, between 6 and 9 p.m. at Western Albemarle High School. There is no admission to the event, which raises money for arts programming in the western feeder pattern schools. In addition to a performance by the cast of Once Upon a Mattress, the event will feature ceramics demonstrations as well as performances by the Henley Middle School Jazz Band and Western’s Jazz Band, Choir, and Orchestra.