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home : city of othello : city of othello February 26, 2015

4/23/2014 3:49:00 PM
Othello Theatre Guild set for performances
Photo by Erik PagueVeteran actress Malia Villarreal works on a scene during a rehearsal for “Once Upon a Mattress” at McFarland Middle School Thursday, April 10.
Photo by Erik Pague
Veteran actress Malia Villarreal works on a scene during a rehearsal for “Once Upon a Mattress” at McFarland Middle School Thursday, April 10.

Erik Pague

The members of the Othello Theatre Guild have been hard at work since January preparing their latest production and are set to debut "Once Upon a Mattress" 7 p.m. Friday at the McFarland Middle School Auditorium. The musical was adapted in 1959 from "The Princess and the Pea" fairy tale and should be fun for all ages, actress Malia Villarreal said.
"We've all heard of 'The Princess and the Pea' story - this is a twist on it," she said. "It's a comedy and it makes
people laugh."
She is playing Princess Winnifred, who she said audiences might not expect from a story based on an early-19th century Danish fairy tale.
"She is pretty much the hillbilly princess from the swamp that Sir Harry brings to marry the queen's son," Villarreal said. "She's not what everyone's expecting. They're expecting this regal, refined person. I love crazy parts."
Playing opposite the queen, and making his acting debut, is Ryan Gonzalez in the role of King Sexton. Unlike Villarreal, who has credits on shows like "The Music Man," "Oklahoma!" and "Cinderella," Gonzalez hasn't had much of a chance to follow his dream of becoming an actor until now.
"Ever since I was little, whenever I watched movies, I was fascinated and I always wanted to get into the acting business," he said.
Gonzalez said he's had fun practicing his challenging role. His character has been silenced by a curse that forces him to pantomime most of his thoughts to the other players. He's had to memorize other actors' lines to get his part down and said he's been fortunate to work with such a diverse group of people in the Theatre Guild, which features members of all ages.
"I don't think my character would be at its best without them," Gonzalez said.
The members have been rehearsing since January and director Tom Christensen, who has been with the guild for 12 years, said getting a chance to help Gonzalez, other first-time actors and even experienced actors develop their talents has been rewarding
for him.
Between his work with the guild and at Othello High School, where he teaches Spanish, Christensen said he's directed 20 plays. He said every production goes differently and this one is providing some interesting tests to both him and the other actors.
"I've never directed one with little kids in it," he said. "I've always just done plays with high school kids and adults. Also, some of the characters in this are pretty unique, like the mute king, so, they're hard to help the actors develop."
Christensen said all of the challenges are worth it and expects the show to be a hit
in Othello.
"It's not your typical Disney fairy tale by any means," he said. "The entire show is full of fun. It's silly, funny and goofy, so it's entertaining the whole way through."
Tickets for the show will be sold at the door for $10 each. Four more performances are scheduled for April 19, April 25 and April 26. Those shows start at 7 p.m., while a 2 p.m. matinee will be available for $8 April 26.


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