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Kaneland Connection: 'Mattress' time at Kaneland

Summer community theater show gets underway this weekend

Published: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 11:40 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 11:51 p.m. CDT
(Mary Beth Nolan for Shaw Media)
Cast members of "Once Upon A Mattress" rehearse a dance number at Kaneland High School.
(Mary Beth Nolan for Shaw Media)
Kaneville resident Alec Kovach and cast run through dance choreography during a rehearsal of "Once Upon A Mattress" at Kaneland High School.

MAPLE PARK – When Alec Kovach first was looking to try out for a play, he was nervous. Just in case he was thinking of changing his mind, a friend took his car keys to prevent escape.

It turns out he was a natural, and he said he has been cast in a lead role in just about every performance in which he’s participated. The Kaneland graduate is playing Dauntless, the prince, in this summer’s Kaneland Arts Initiative performance of “Once Upon a Mattress,” which opens this weekend.

Performances take place at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday, then again at 7 p.m. July 18 and 19 and at 2 p.m. July 20 in the Kaneland High School auditorium at 47W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park. To purchase tickets, visit

The community theater production has become a Kaneland summer tradition, now under the name of the KAI, an organization previously known as the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival. The play’s producer, Maria Dripps-Paulson, said “Once Upon a Mattress” features performers ages 11 to 69. It is based on “The Princess and the Pea.”

The format is a perfect fit for Kovach, 19, a recent Kaneland graduate who is home for the summer from the Milwaukee School of Engineering. He said the school doesn’t put on such productions. And a guy who at first had to be talked into auditioning for a role now said he “couldn’t live without it.”

“I missed it like crazy,” he said.

The part of Winnifred, the princess, is played by Pamela Gianakakos, 27, a first-grade teacher at McDole Elementary School. She said portraying the princess was on her “bucket list.”

“I always wanted to play ‘Fred,’ ” she said.

She previously was part of another performance at Kaneland, a much more serious show, “The Laramie Project,” a performance centered on the death of a man named Matthew Shepard. “Once Upon a Mattress,” by contrast, is a kid-friendly production.

“I think it’s a lot of fun,” Gianakakos said. “There are a lot of silly characters.”

Cast members include Gianakakos, Kovach, Peter Lopatin, Beth McDonald, Jordyn Withey, Mitch Bateman, Teresa Arnold, Steve Hommowun, Emily VanDelinder-Birchfield, Nicole DiSandro, Trisha Mills, Claire Cerny, Aimee Frost, Sabrina Massa, Anna Lopatin, Mace Jendruczek, Jarod Kovach, Josh Herrero, Patrick Murphy, Zack Eckhardt, Chris Wido and Eric Johnson.

Others include Connie Gush, Robyn Lycan, Sally McClellan, Sarah Ball, Caitlin Carlson, Zoe Haenisch, Abigail Heinicke, Erica Johnson, Julianna Klecka, Julianne Miller, Betsy Mills, Natalie Mills, Emily Murphy, Cyrena Pierce, Mirella Ramos and Jade Sadowski.

Also involved are Dripps-Paulson (producer), Diane McFarlin (director), Brandon Staker (music director), Rebecca Hof (choreographer), Chad Carlson (technical theater director) and VanDelinder-Birchfield (scenic designer).

• Al Lagattolla is the news editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at

If you go

Performances of “Once Upon a Mattress” take place at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday, then again at 7 p.m. July 18 and 19 and at 2 p.m. July 20 in the Kaneland High School auditorium at 47W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens and $25 for a “family ticket,” which includes everyone in a household. To purchase tickets, visit

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