`A genuine princess is exceedingly rare'

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“Once Upon a Mattress,” performed through Feb. 24 at Lakewood Cultural Center by Highlands-Ranch-based Performance Now Theatre Company, is a delightful, somewhat skewed, telling of Hans Christian Andersen's “The Princess and the Pea.”

Once upon a time, there was a prince, named Dauntless (Zachary Stailey), who wanted to find a princess to marry — with whom he would live “happily ever after.” A major obstacle was his mother Queen Agravain (Carla Kaiser Kotrc), who continually interfered by giving the candidates impossible tasks to accomplish. She furthermore decreed that no one else could marry until her son found a royal wife. In the meantime, she ruled since the king had been struck dumb by a curse. Sir Harry (Andy Sievers), who really needs to marry Lady Larkin (Carolyn Lohr), takes matter into his own hands and marches off to find a princess.

Enter Winnifred the Woebegone (petite Sarah Grover), who arrives by swimming the moat. This small woman has a big voice and considerable comic skill. The story goes on with wonderfully-costumed courtiers, jester, minstrel, wizard and more; lots of dance numbers and humorous songs.

Readers know that this princess prevails!

A live band is a nice addition and there's enough funny business to entertain any but the youngest child.

If you go:

“Once Upon a Mattress” plays through Feb. 24 at Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, Lakewood. Performances: 7:30 Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $28 (senior/child discounts), 303-987-7845, Lakewood.org/CulturalCenter.