Tribute: Mary Rodgers

Posted on June 28, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Mary Rodgers, writer and composer, died on Thursday at age 83.  She was co-creator of the wonderful musical “Once Upon a Mattress,” based on the Princess and the Pea fairy tale.  It was a breakthrough role for Carol Burnett on Broadway.  Here she is singing, “I’m Shy.”

It was remade with Tracy Ullman.

Burnett played the role of the evil Queen.

Rodgers also wrote books for kids that have become classics, especially Freaky Friday, filmed three times, most recently with Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis.

She wrote a two-generation advice column with her mother for McCall’s Magazine and she worked with Leonard Bernstein on his famous series of Young People’s Concerts.

Rodgers was the daughter of one award-winning Broadway composer Richard Rodgers (“South Pacific,” “Pal Joey,” “The Sound of Music”) and the mother of another, Adam Guettel (“Floyd Collins” and “The Light in the Piazza”). The New York Times wrote:

“The Light in the Piazza,” Adam Guettel’s 2005 musical, for which he won a Tony for best score, was based on a 1950s novel by Elizabeth Spencer about an American woman traveling in Italy with her mentally disabled daughter, who falls in love with an Italian man. Years ago, Ms. Rodgers had suggested the story to her father as ripe for musicalizing, but he decided against it. Decades later she passed the idea on to her son.

Why, she was asked in 2003, did she not adapt the work herself?

“I had a pleasant talent but not an incredible talent,” she said in an interview with The New York Times Magazine. “I was not my father or my son. And you have to abandon all kinds of things.”

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Once Upon a Mattress

Posted on February 1, 2010 at 8:00 am

Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating: NR
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Tense family situations
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: 2005
Date Released to DVD: 2005 ASIN: B000ATQYVK

“Once Upon a Mattress,” a musical version of “The Princess and the Pea,” is one of my favorites. Carol Burnett became a star for her portrayal of the kind-hearted but rather loud princess when it premiered on Broadway and she repeated the part in two television broadcasts. In this version she plays the queen, who will do anything to stay in power, which means stopping her timid son from finding a bride. The songs, written by Mary Rodgers (daughter of Richard Rodgers of “South Pacific” and “The King and I”) and Marshall Barer, are tuneful, witty, and utterly charming.

In supporting roles, Zooey Deschanel (“(500) Days of Summer”) and Matthew Morrison (“Glee”) are fairy-tale perfect. A great family movie!

(NOTE: Some mild references to making babies)

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