Based on the acclaimed Broadway musical, an all-star cast brings a beloved fairy tale to life in Disney Presents ONCE UPON A MATTRESS. Queen Aggravain (Carol Burnett) sabotages the efforts of every young princess who hopes... more » to marry her son, Prince Dauntless (Denis O'Hare) -- and no one else can settle down until he does! Honorable Sir Harry is determined to marry the lovely Lady Larken (Zooey Deschanel), so he sets off for faraway lands and returns with an unlikely candidate: Princess Winnifred from the swamps (Tracey Ullman). It's love at first sight for the Prince, so the Queen sets about planning her most difficult challenge yet. The palace is filled with merriment and mischief while everyone wonders, will Princess "Fred" pass the Queen's test?« less
Evelyn N. (evelyn0309) from RIO VISTA, CA Reviewed on 12/15/2007...
Very entertaining version of this classic musical comedy. Carol Burnett, as always, is in top form.
Why? But I'm Glad...
G. Schneider | VA United States | 06/15/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"My first question is Why? Why bother going to such expense and effort to bring this old chestnut to the screen (TV, that is)? It was never a GREAT musical to begin with. But on the other hand, I'm glad they did, because, as a former musical director, I have conducted and played this show several times. The last time was over 30 years ago, so it was wonderful to see and hear it again after all this time.
There have been complaints that the songs aren't memorable. (One reviewed didn't like them so he/she fast-forwarded through them. That's a wonderful way to get to know a song!) The songs are indeed memorable, and quite tuneful. Mary Rodgers, Richard's daughter, did a wonderful job...better, in fact, than her father was doing about that time. And the lyrics are very clever. "Sensitivity" in 5/4 time is a tour-de-force of writing and performing. I was sorry they cut "Very Soft Shoes," the jester's song. And "An Opening for a Princess." I missed that, too.
The casting was either good or inspired...mostly. Matthew Morrison and Zooey Deschanel as the young lovers are rather wimpy, to the point of who care if they get married or split or what. But just about everyone else was magnificent. The jester (Michael Boatman) was too good to have had "Very Soft Shoes" taken from him. Tom Smothers, a real treat, was wonderful to watch. His pantomime and facial expressions were delightful. Denis O'Hare grew on me. Not being a TV freak, I wasn't familiar with him. Tracey Ullman was fine, if a little long in the tooth for the part. (Then again, one of the productions of the show I did starred Imogene Coca in the part, and she was in her 60s then!) As for Carol Burnett, she was fantastic, totally over the top! She graduated from the princess to the queen perfectly. (Imogene should have had such luck!) Unfortunately, a song was added for her, which did nothing to distinguish itself other than quote Winnifred's "Happily Ever After," a theatrical no-no. (Fred's song was a soliloquy. How or why would the queen sing the same thing?)
The production values were very high. Bob Mackie's costumes for Carol were breathtaking...and hysterical!
In all, though the show is dated, it's part of musical history and let's wish that more classics would get this treatment. (How about SHE LOVES ME for a start, guys?)"
LESS THAN REGAL BUT WINNING JUST THE SAME
Robert F. Powers | Quincy, Ma USA | 12/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Just watched this on the TV special ahead of the release of the DVD and while the show was entertaining it had some short-comings principally in dropping numbers such as "Yesterday I Loved You" which was sung by the young lovers. In its place they sang a shortened version of "Normandy" which was not their number in the first place. "Very Soft Shoes" a minor show-stopper for the jester was missed and "Many Moons Ago" and "An Opening for a Princess" were reduced to bits. The score that was retained was edited but the songs still entertain. The cast was well chosen and Tracy Ullman was brave taking on a role forever identified as Carol Burnetts' who camped it up in high style as wicked Queen Aggravain for this special. Tracy was good and funny but her singing lacked the lung power of Carol Burnett especially the way Ms Burnett belted out "Happily Ever After" and "Shy" Denis O'Hare made an appropriate woe-be-gone Prince Dauntless and Matthew Morrison sang well as Sir Harry. If this show had been made for HBO maybe they could have retained the entire show instead of being constrained by the endless parade of commercials on network Tv. As is the show was still a lot of fun and the funniest line came when Lady Larkin tells Sir Harry she is expecting his baby and Sir Harry replies, "You can't be blamed you had a moment of weakness""
A total disappointment
David Sale | Sydney, Australia | 02/07/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"For anyone who loves the original Broadway cast recording, this DVD version fails miserably in all departments. It is miscast, badly directed, and boringly choreographed. The role of the Princess needs a belter. That's the whole core of this musical. Ullman is not a belter and is also too old for the part. The supporting roles seemed to be scaled to her inadequacies, as we are also served a middle-aged, dull and pathetic Prince Dauntless. As for the young lovers, they were dull to begin with, so they come out fine. Curiously, Carol Burnett whose debut performance in the original shot her to stardom, is less than impressive as the Queen. While the part does invite some ripe overplaying, unlike the lady in the original Broadway cast who managed to bring a little subtle fun to the role, Ms Burnett has about as much subtlety as Godzilla and her overbearing presence actually unbalances this already weak production. As she chews up the scenery (which looks like styrofoam, anyway)and forcibly intrudes on scenes she wasn't meant to be in, one gets the unpleasant feeling that, despite relinquishing the starring role, Ms Burnett still has the urge to dominate. What is it with these hitherto wonderful funny ladies in later life? (Think Lucille Ball in "Mame"). All their innate skills appear to become subordinate to a manic ego. And believe me, I'm a Carol Burnett fan about everything she did until this! My two stars are for the delightful score, which even this lousy treatment doesn't quite diminish. Frankly, my advice is to skip it and if you're a fan or just curious, buy the original Broadway cast CD."
Why change a good thing?
R. Doran | Pittsburgh, PA United States | 01/04/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Overall, I thought this revamped version of Once Upon a Mattress was good, but not great.
Tracey Ullman was wonderful and fantastically funny as Winnifred as was Carol Burnett as Aggravain.
What bothered me was the rewriting of a great show. It was obvious the show was cut to pieces for two reasons: To give Carol Burnett a larger role and to make sure the show ran within a two hour time slot. This took many good songs out, shifted the focus of the show to only Aggravain and Winnifred and also took out a lot of charm with it. Gone is the role of the Minstrel and the fun trio of the Jester, Minstrel and King Sextimus. Gone are great songs "Many Moons Ago", "Opening for a Princess", "Yesterday I Loved You", "Very Soft Shoes" and a complete "Normandy".
While I can understand minor rewrites and cuts for TV version, I think this show was cut to the point that it suffered greatly from the original version.
takingadayoff | Las Vegas, Nevada | 12/24/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This production of Once Upon a Mattress makes you wonder why Tracey Ullman hasn't been on Broadway until now. She makes the show, in spite of the fact that the role is for a younger woman. For that matter, why aren't there more musical roles for women over forty? The only one I can think of is Mamma Mia. Judging by the popularity of Mamma Mia, it seems as if there is a considerable audience for such shows.
The DVD version of Once Upon a Mattress is fun to watch, but I can't help thinking that I might have been disappointed if I'd paid Broadway prices for a ticket. The only memorable number in the show was Ullman's opening tune "I'm Shy." On the other hand, the DVD includes a few extra features that you may enjoy. There's a short about the 1959 production that starred Carol Burnett as Princess Winifred, as well as two split-screen musical numbers comparing the rehearsals with the full-dress version."