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Kids Make a SPARC

The energetic cast is wrapping up a six-week training program at the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC). Working with theater professionals and university students, SPARC participants learn all facets of performance, and the annual musical is a great way to showcase their talents.

"Once Upon a Mattress," based on the fairy tale "The Princess and the Pea," is SPARC's 17th summer musical.

The tale centers around Prince Dauntless the Drab (Chase Peak) whose mother Queen Aggravain (Joy Williams) won't let him wed unless the bride-to-be is truly of royal blood. When Princess Winnifred (Alanna Wilson) arrives at the castle dripping wet from swimming the moat, the queen devises the famous pea-under-the-mattress test to determine her royal worthiness. The cast also includes college students Jason Marks (Shenandoah University) as King Sextimus and Alanna Wilson (Theatre VCU).

Under the direction of Tom Width, artistic director at Swift Creek Mill Theatre; joined by Blanton Bradley, Richmond Ballet music director; Pam Turner, choreographer with Richmond Dance Center; and designers Bill Jenkins, associate director of speech and drama at Virginia Union University and Kym Mincks, actress and costumer; the young actors have every advantage in presenting a top-notch and especially cool summer musical. — Wendy Parker

Runs July 25 through July 28 at the Empire Theatre, 114 West Broad Street. Tickets are $14 and are available at the door. For performance times call 257-0243.

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