x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Abu Dhabi troupe counts on the timeless appeal of fairy tales

The Abu Dhabi Choral Group is performing Once Upon a Mattress tonight at Brighton College, a musical comedy based on The Princess and the Pea.

The Dubai-based theatre director and actress Shera-Lea Saunders, from the Abu Dhabi Choral Group, is counting on the seemingly inexhaustible demand for fairy tales.

The group is performing Once Upon a Mattress tonight at Brighton College in Abu Dhabi, a musical comedy based on the fairy tale The Princess and the Pea, written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1835.

"It's a classic fairy tale about love overcoming all evil," says Saunders. "It's one of those accessible stories that's popular and a lot of fun, which is why it is timeless."

The story, which stays true to the original, concerns a prince who searches for a real princess to marry, without luck. During a terrible storm one night, a young girl mysteriously knocks at the door and the queen conjures up tests to see if she is indeed a real princess.

"It's clear that both major characters - the mother and the princess - are very strong but approach life in different ways. The theme is, it's OK to be a strong, independent woman who goes after what she wants," says Saunders. "The princess is outside of the social conventions and flips everything upside down, in a positive way."

There are 32 cast members involved in the production, one of whom designed the 18th-century style costumes, complete with "big hair and tight corsets".

"We hope people will be excited to come. There is something about theatre that allows for an escape. It is about viewing the world from different angles," says Saunders.

Abu Dhabi Choral Group aims to produce at least two shows a year.

Once Upon a Mattress opens tonight at 8pm and continues until June 2 at Brighton College, Abu Dhabi. Tickets, from Time Out Tickets and Spinneys in Khalidiya, cost Dh80 for evening shows and Dh50 for the Friday afternoon show (3:30pm). Visit www.abudhabichoralgroup.com for details