New York | 1h 40m | Already closed

Once Upon a Mattress

From 22 critic and 93 member reviews
Members say: Funny, Entertaining, Delightful, Clever, Quirky

About the show

The Transport Group presents a revival of this zany musical retelling of the classic story of 'The Princess and the Pea,' featuring Jackie Hoffman as Princess Winnifred and John “Lypsinka” Epperson as Queen Aggravain. More…

During a kingdom-wide search to find a princess fit for the hapless Prince Dauntless, in swims the less-than-regal Princess Winnifred the Woebegone. Unrefined and undeniably charming, Winnifred is like no princess Dauntless has ever seen and his heart is captured. The truly terrible Queen Aggravain goes on a mission to come between her son and his soulmate in this comedy re-telling of 'The Princess and The Pea.'


"There's no shortage of big laughs when one of Broadway's funniest supporting clowns gets the full leading lady treatment in director Jack Cummings III's deliciously raucous production… 'Once Upon a Mattress' is bursting at the seams with performers loaded with showbiz pizzazz...Transport Group's 'Once Upon a Mattress' may be the best reason to venture down to the Lower East Side since Yonah Schimmel learned how to make a knish." Full Review

AM New York

"An offbeat, joyful, absolutely triumphant production...It combines an affection for old-fashioned musical comedy with a downtown vibe and pumped-up hormonal spirit. Feeling scrappy but actually quite elaborate, it features a full-size orchestra, big vocals and jaunty dance choreography. Hoffman is looney, sincere and truly hilarious...The revival is dedicated to the memory of its composer, Mary Rodgers, who passed away last year. She would have loved it." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Transport Group presents this revival with delicious gender-bending bits and pieces that often bring the house down with raucous and spirit-filling laughter...'Once Upon A Mattress' has a truly ensemble cast that brings to life the clever book and the catchy score and engages the audience on several levels from the simple to the profound...Under Jack Cummings III’s sensitive and careful direction, the entire cast is superb." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"It's not the greatest musical ever written, but its stars, supporting cast, and creative team deliver a near-flawless production of this silly, sassy, modern fairy tale...A supporting cast full of first-rate singer/actors carries us through the two-plus hours of 'Once Upon A Mattress' so effortlessly it feels like the time just speeds by." Full Review

Village Voice

"Transport Group's production is delightful, timely, and utterly winning. 'Mattress' itself is lumpy and overlong...Several charming musical numbers feel tacked on. But under Jack Cummings's sly direction, it's smartly designed and gorgeously dressed; the entire cast excels." Full Review

Time Out New York

"The chief pleasure of this small-budget but zestfully acted production is to see a ham like Hoffman wax girlish, as well as deliver the slapstick—vocal and physical—the role requires...No wonder the piece has become a staple of community theaters and TV specials since the 1960s...If you’re priced out of Broadway’s biggest attractions and welcome a night of old-fashioned fun served up with style, 'Mattress' has plenty of bounce." Full Review

Musical Theater Review

"The cast is studded throughout with first-rate talents, and they’re given a number of chances to demonstrate it...The celebrated inventiveness of director Cummings is also evident in the physical production...What could use a bit more buoyancy is the book. It’s undoubtedly clever, but it does occasionally hit some lumpy moments. These are small quibbles when it comes to more than two hours of comedy that bubble very much like uncorked vintage champagne." Full Review


"Hoffman carries the show but doesn't monopolize it given accomplished work of the supporting cast…It isn't that Cummings has done anything extraordinarily daring to a show already done to death...However, he has kept a clear vision of what this show is and isn't as it moves from one silly scene and one charming song and dance to the next…For good wholesome family fun, you can't top 'Once Upon a Mattress.'" Full Review

Broadway Blog

"New, fabulously funny production...Hoffman has big shoes to fill, as Carol Burnett originally created the role. She effortlessly succeeds. With impressive vocal and physical gymnastics, Hoffman owns the role...this newly scrubbed version of 'Once Upon A Matttress' provides the perfect escapist antidote to 'transport' us to a magical world of musical theater." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"Despite the lack of any songs that have become standards, Rodgers and Bayer’s score is consistently amusing and listenable...The book, however, has too many minor diversions, and there’s not quite enough wit to sustain what is, after all, a rather innocuous narrative for a grown-up audience...At a somewhat overlong two hours and 25 minutes, 'Once Upon a Mattress' isn’t a great show, but it’s cute, sprightly, and more charming than you might expect." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"As the orchestra plays the opening strains from the Transport Group’s revival of 'Once Upon a Mattress,' a smile will start to spread all over your face and will stay there for more than 2½ hours. Ah…an old fashion musical done well. What makes this production such a delight is the new orchestrations by Frank Galgano and Matt Castle." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"'Mattress' is the musical comedy adapted from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Princess and the Pea that is keeping audiences guffawing with silly, rollicking pleasure...And, oh, what a cast of characters jaunty Jack Cummings III (director) has gathered... Hoffman is delightfully daffy and droll in the role, utilizing some interesting vocal techniques in her song delivery." Full Review

NY Theatre Guide

"So we have two meta performers, whose very casting is ironic commentary on their roles, while all about them are more conventionally cast in a conventional, funny, tuneful ’50s musical-comedy burlesque of The Princess and the Pea. How does the experiment work? Splendidly...For tuneful family holiday fun, with an energetic cast kicking up its heels in the service of bringing extra oomph to tried-and-true material, this 'Mattress' is hard to beat." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Absolutely nothing about this wacky, malfunctioning carousel ride of a production is predictable, and against the odds, everything about it works…If Cummings, Hoffman, Epperson, and company have made this production an explosion of theatrical and comedic energy, their achievement isn't one for the ages only because 'Once Upon a Mattress' isn't a show for the ages. But even grade-D titles deserve grade-A treatments, so give them credit for that." Full Review

The New York Times

"'Mattress' has its charms, but they do wear thin…This production is never quite smooth enough, on the one hand, or wild enough, on the other, to consistently hold the attention. That is, except when Ms. Hoffman is blushing and belting or Mr. Epperson is doing Lypsinka doing Aggravain...More surprisingly, Ms. Hoffman’s Winnifred is genuinely affecting...That turns out to be quite enough to win the hearts of a prince, and an audience." Full Review

New York Theater

"The elastic-faced Hoffman has finally gotten a leading role she’s long deserved…Her rendition of 'I’m Shy' is a highlight of the season…A cast of first-rate comic pros executes the daffy plot…Given all the goodies, it is easier to forgive the ways the musical is dated…A running time of 150 minutes has become too long for what is essentially sketch comedy. And, as good as their performances are, the humor is far less funny than it once must have been." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"It's a thin, silly story to fuel a two-and-a-half hour musical, and the antic book features more than a few groan-worthy gags. The score, too, is unmemorable...But assuming you're in the right mood, the show is fun nonetheless, and this production, exuberantly directed by Jack Cummings III, is ultimately hard to resist. Hoffman is a deliciously daffy Winnifred. She uses her expert comic timing and nasal vocal delivery to make her character's desperation hilariously palpable." Full Review

New York Daily News

"The freewheeling new 'Once Upon a Mattress' comes with a concept: Belt loudly and carry a big shtick. The plan works for this musical riff on 'The Princess and the Pea' that made a Broadway star out of Carol Burnett in 1959...At nearly 2 1/2 hours, it takes too long to get to the happily ever after. But when it comes, Hoffman is there for another zinger." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Fairy tales that end with the proverbial 'everyone lived happily ever after' are strictly lightweight, one-note fare. The revival of 'Once Upon a Mattress' off-Broadway at the Abrons Arts Center, is no exception...It's a staid Fifties-style work, though Mary Rodgers' score is melodious and Marshall Barer's lyrics enjoyable. The Transport Group's rendition is fairly lively, given its parameters, and Hoffman is a standout. Known as a belter, she can also carry more tender melodies." Full Review


"With jazz-infused music by Mary Rodgers and the dramatic heft of a cocktail party joke, 'Once Upon a Mattress' feels straight out of the waning days of Broadway's Golden Age. The show still sparkles with glitz. Beware, however: Nostalgia can be deceiving...Unfortunately, the book has not aged as gracefully. Many scenes feel like amusing diversions rather than crucial plot points." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"'Once Upon a Mattress' is an old-fashioned clown show; even in its expanded version, it has the feel of something cribbed from a mid-century television variety show...Cummings' production is a collection of hits and misses...The cold truth is, Hoffman inhabits one show and Epperson is in another one altogether...As it happens, it's not enough to cast a clown show with clowns - you need the right kind of clowns." Full Review

Broadway & Me

"The director, who has come up with some terrifically imaginative concepts for his company's past productions, seems just as much adrift. His big contribution is having an artist augment the show's low-budget scenery by drawing in additional elements in simulated real time via video projections. But he isn't able to get his cast performing as though they're all in the same show." Full Review

Ambitious, Entertaining, Enchanting, Funny, Profound

See it if If you like folk music

Don't see it if You are looking for a rock musical

Ambitious, Clever, Enchanting, Entertaining, Funny

See it if If it ever returns to New York City!

Don't see it if No reasons exist!

Great acting, Funny, Entertaining, Delightful, Original

See it if You want to be fully entertained for over 2 hours by a most talented cast.

Don't see it if You don't like singing and dancing on stage because there's lots of that.

Delightful, Enchanting, Clever, Entertaining, Funny

See it if you want to see a great cast perform a classic. Great fun!

Don't see it if you don't like "fairy tales". This is really well done but it's still basically an adult cartoon.

Delightful, Enchanting, Great singing, Great dancing, Fun

See it if you enjoy light, humorous, fairy tale type musicals. This show has a fun score that was well sung in this production.

Don't see it if you are looking for something a little more serious.

Also I have a soft spot for this show, and this production confirmed why. T... Read more Read less

Delightful, Entertaining, Great staging, Hilarious

See it if C'mon -- it's LYPSINKA! And Jackie Hoffman! That should be enough to get you there. The rest is just the icing on the cake.

Don't see it if You're looking for Pinter. Or a Russian tragedy. This is just a flat out good time, and if you don't like a good time stay home. (LYPSINKA!)

Clever, Delightful, Funny, Hilarious

See it if you like watching people have fun onstage.

Don't see it if you expect on broadway budgets at an off-off-broadway location.

Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Fluffy, Dated

See it if You want an enthusiastic cast performing a charmingly old-fashioned musical. You like fractured fairytales. You like musical comedies.

Don't see it if You prefer more contemporary musicals. You like serious stories. You prefer shows w/bigger production values.

Delightful, Hilarious, Refreshing, Fluffy, Quirky

See it if You're a Jackie Hoffmann or Lypsinka fan. Amazing what a bawdy comedienne & an evil drag queen can do to rejuvenate a silly old show.

Don't see it if You don't care for old fashioned musicals, fairytale or... well, fun.

Entertaining, Funny, Hilarious, Raunchy, Delightful

See it if You love comedy and silight innuendos. Not what youre expecting from a musical, yet very basic.

Don't see it if You dont enjoy basic love stories

Delightful, Hilarious, Entertaining, Whimsical, Charming

See it if you like old-fashioned musicals with hints of modern/irreverent twists. Or if you want to spend a couple hours with a big smile on your face

Don't see it if you're a traditionalist, or a sourpuss.

Entertaining, Funny, Hilarious, Fluffy, Delightful

See it if You wanted the chance to see a trouper like Jackie Hoffman in a great comic performance. Bonus points for a fun turn from Lypsinka.

Don't see it if OK it's a bit long and a bit thin on the story side,. but the winning lead performances made up for that.

Enchanting, Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Refreshing

See it if You enjoy fluffy and funny

Don't see it if You lack taste

Fun, Funny, Campy

See it if You love Jackie Hoffman, Lypsinka or the show's magical score.

Don't see it if You're expecting a genius, revelatory night at the theater. It's a just-okay production of a really sweet (but twee) musical.

Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Fluffy

See it if you are a fan of Jackie Hoffman.

Don't see it if you are not a fan of this musical, or in need of a little more conceptual weight to a show.

Delightful, Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if You wanna see lea salonga.

Don't see it if You don't like african style.

Funny, Fluffy, Lumpy, Padded, Springy

See it if Jackie Hoffman & Lypsinka float your boat. They're Serta-nly swell. Zak Resnick, Cory Lingner & Ryan Hunter Herdlicka Sealy in the charm.

Don't see it if a pea or 2 of lumpy staging keep you from enjoying a good night's entertainment. Most performances lack the distinctive edge of the leads.

Cliched, Enchanting, Entertaining, Quirky

See it if You like great story lines and tunes. The songs are so catchy!

Don't see it if You don't like fairytale-esque stories

Dated, Entertaining

See it if you want a big splashy revival

Don't see it if you want something new and fresh

Overdone, Great music, Fun, Great for kids, Slightly disappointing

See it if you need a OUAM fix. The show is delightful fluff, but this production never soared. I liked the projected sets, but others didn't.

Don't see it if you want a stellar version. Lypsinka overdoes it. Hoffman is sweet, but lacks presence and voice. The cast needs some diversity.

Clever, Slow, Original, Masterful, Great writing

See it if You enjoy fairy tales and princesses and princes. Very good for all ages.

Don't see it if You aren't into any fairy takes or didn't enjoy the book "The Princess and The Pea"

Delightful, Great acting, Silly, Funny, Inconsistent

See it if you like quirky classic musicals performed with a wink.

Don't see it if you don't like shtick.

Entertaining, Funny, Dated, Quirky, Fluffy

See it if you're a die-hard Lipsinka/Jackie Hoffman fan & enjoy campy updates of old warhorse musicals.

Don't see it if you saw Carol Burnett play Winifred. No way to match that performance. Also if you expect non-traditional color blind casting. Not here.

Disappointing, Indulgent, Unbalanced, Campy

See it if Do/Don't already worship Jackie Hoffman. Enjoy inventive tech in theater and use of scenic animation. Support non-trad casting.

Don't see it if Expect a show of actual theater and not just a campfest. Expect professional theater to have higher production values than a high school.

Entertaining, Fluffy, Amateurish, Funny

See it if You like sweet old fashioned musicals with clever lyrics and lilting tunes. There are cute touches in the staging too.

Don't see it if You're put off by a community theater level of performance, besides the two principals. The cast is spirited and well meaning however.

Cast & Creatives (9)