by Dennis Dalman
At the time, 17 years ago, shy, terrified Jon Legg never imagined he would someday star in the very musical play that scared him so much.
In 1995, Legg had a bit role in the Sartell High School production of “Once Upon a Mattress.” Some of his buddies had auditioned for the play, so Legg thought, “What the heck? Why not me?”
He tried out and got a part.
“I had terrible stage fright,” Legg recalled. “I was in the chorus, and I had do to some dancing. I remember I had to sing ‘Happy Birthday,’ and I was so scared it seems like I sang the whole song in about three seconds.”
After his initial heebie-jeebies, however, Legg relaxed enough to enjoy play-acting –so much so that in the coming years, he had roles in many other plays.
And now, as Prince Dauntless in “Once Upon a Mattress,” Legg not ony has the major male lead role, but he also gets to woo the woman he loves in “real” life – his wife, Allison, who plays Princess Winnifred.
The Two Rivers Community Theater production will be performed July 21-22 and July 25-29 at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School. Show times are at 7 p.m., except for the two Sundays (July 22 and July 29) when there will be matinees only, at 2 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online at the following website: www.isd47.org/sauk-rapids-rice-community-education/community-theater/
Long-time Sartell teacher and play director Ron Cicharz is assistant director for the play. It was Cicharz who directed Legg and others in the 1995 production of “Once Upon a Mattress.”
Based loosely – very loosely – on Hans Christian Anderson’s story (“The Princess and the Pea”) “Once Upon a Mattress” made its debut on Broadway in 1959, with Carol Burnett as Lady Winnifred – just a few years before Burnett became a household name. Since then, the play has become one of the most perennially popular in the history of American theater.
Songs include “Many Moons Ago,” “The Swamps of Home,” “Nightingale Lullaby” and “Man to Man Talk.”
Brimming with whimsical lunacy, the play involves egocentric game-playing Queen Aggravain; her bumbling, immature, mama’s boy (Prince Dauntless); and a determined, clever but rough-around-the-edges Princess Winnifred, who hails from swamp country.
Other characters include King Sextimus the Silent, Sir Studley, a wizard, a jester and a minstrel. The Two Rivers production has a cast of 30.
“The play is a riot,” Jon Legg said. “It’s way over the top. Princess Winnifred comes in and breaks up the kingdom where the queen rules, and then everyone starts loosening up and having fun.”
Legg is a 1999 graduate of Sartell High School. He earned his degree in elementary education from St. Cloud State University in 2006 and is currently employed as a program manager for Kidstop at Discovery School in Waite Park. His wife, Allison, has been very involved in theater all of her life, especially during her years at St. Cloud Tech High School. She is an accountant for the Sand Co., which deals with construction and real-estate management. The couple met in 2004 while they were both playing role as Jets chorus members in a GREAT Theatre production of “West Side Story.” They were married Sept. 3 of last year.
When the busy Leggs aren’t memorizing lines or practicing singing and dancing, they love to explore the world of cuisine, frequently trying new recipes.