Cox Mill High in Concord stages ‘Once upon a Mattress’
Friday, Apr. 04, 2014

Cox Mill High in Concord stages ‘Once upon a Mattress’

    The cast and crew of Cox Mill High School’s production of “Once upon a Mattress” rehearse for the show opening April 10.
    Cox Mill High School theater teacher Miriam Kuykendall takes a break from rehearsal with some of the cast members of “Once upon a Mattress.” From left are (back row) Alyson Burrell, Michael Ferrell, Ethan Pestyk, Julia Blasi, Melanie Robinson, Tristen Moseley, Cooper Schoeder, Carly Coccaro, (front) Kuykendall and Isaiah Christian.
  • Want to go?

    What: “Once upon a Mattress.”

    Where: Cox Mill High School, 1355 Cox Mill Road, Concord.

    When: 7 p.m. April 10, 11 and 12; and 2 p.m. April 13.

    Tickets: $5 for students, $7 for adults, available at the door.

What happens when a bunch of girls are all trying to marry the same guy? No, I am not talking about “The Bachelor.” It’s happening at Cox Mill High School.

It’s the story from the musical “Once Upon a Mattress,” which students will perform April 10-13 at Cox Mill High School.

“Once upon a Mattress” is based on the classic fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea.”

“This time, the truth is coming out from someone who was actually there,” said Miriam Kuykendall, theater teacher and fine arts department chairwoman at Cox Mill High School. “As the story has been passed down through the generations, it has become very sugar-coated.”

Originally from Georgia, Kuykendall has been teaching theater at Cox Mill High since it opened in 2009.

“Theater classes give students so much confidence,” she said. “Students who have taken a theater class interview very well. They have the ability to slow down and answer questions clearly. Even when they mess up, they’ll know how to handle the mistake so that no one will notice.”

Kuykendall teaches beginning and advanced theater, as well and musical and technical theater. She credits her parents for her success.

“My mother was a teacher, and I think she’s the greatest person ever. And if I even end up a little bit like her, then I’d consider myself pretty successful,” she said. “She has grown adults emailing her still and telling her what a huge impact she had on them. To make that kind of impression on a student at such a young age is something special.”

She followed an unconventional education path, thanks to her parents.

“I’ve always loved theater, and my parents have always been super-supportive of that,” Kuykendall said. “They pushed for me to attend a magnet performing arts school for high school, which gave me the chance to work with a lot of wonderful people and take classes many traditional schools do not offer.”

Now she is passing her knowledge and love of theater to her students.

“While some of my students will go off and major in theater, many will not,” she said. “But my students will leave here as lifelong supporters of the arts. They will understand what kind of work goes in to a production.”

She hopes her students’ experiences will help them later in life.

“When these students move on to go to interviews, make speeches, meet new people, they will be able to do so with confidence, or they’ll be able to fake it,” she said. “Maybe, just maybe, somewhere in the middle, they will forget they are faking it.”

Linda Doherty is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Linda? Email her at

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