"I told them I'm used to working with professionals, and they have risen to the occasion," said Mrs. Anderson, an owner of Le Chat Noir who is in her second year volunteering as the director of Episcopal Day School's fifth-grade production.
The 38 pupils began rehearsing for the show in February. At first, some of the pupils were leery of the dance number called Spanish Panic.
"When I first started, nobody wanted to dance," Mrs. Anderson said.
She responded by selecting five couples to perform the dance. Now all of the pupils are taking part.
Every pupil has a line in this production, which is a twist on The Princess and the Pea fairy tale.
The musical has been staged by Episcopal Day School for 26 years, and pupils look forward to taking part, according to Susan Everitt, the school's public relations director.
When EDS alumni are asked about their fondest memories of the school, the production is almost always mentioned, she said.
Not only do all the fifth-grade pupils participate in the show, their parents support the effort. Mrs. Anderson has a child acting in the show, and other parents are working behind the scenes. Artist Tom Nakashima made the set.
Mrs. Anderson said the production is the first acting experience for 90 percent of the children.
Mollie Moses, who plays the queen, said she has never had a speaking or singing part in a production, though she has danced in The Nutcracker.
"She's a fun character to play," Mollie said of her role in Once Upon a Mattress.
Mollie said she is building friendships as she and her classmates work to master the singing and dancing in the play.
"We grow as a class. We are more fond of each other," she said. "We are getting to know each other more."
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If You Go
What: Once Upon a Mattress
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Episcopal Day School, 2248 Walton Way
Phone: (706) 733-1192