The South Arkansas Arts Center is proud to announce the dynamic directing teams for the two upcoming productions of Once Upon a Mattress – a fun rendition of The Princess and The Pea. The Theatre Committee will host a community production of the full-length musical on October 19th -29th co-directed by Rhett Davis and Hayden Nooner. Along with that, the Arts Academy’s Teen Drama Club will present the one-hour youth edition on November 9th and 10th directed by Lynn Gunter with music director Cassie Hickman.

Rhett Davis is an El Dorado native who loves theatre from nearly every facet. He’s been spotted all around the Arts Center whether as a techie, director, or actor. His hard work and dedication to his craft was shown in the shows he directed — Clue: On Stage, Lonestar, and Sylvia. Davis also worked as Stage Manager on a wide variety of shows including Steel Magnolias and Little Shop of Horrors. He’s excited to be directing Once Upon A Mattress because it’s just a fun show filled with positive energy, and an experience that no one shall soon forget! Davis looking forward to having a wide, diverse group of actors grace the stage and really sink their teeth into these characters.

Hayden Nooner is excited to make Once Upon A Mattress, his SAAC mainstage directing debut. An experienced director, Hayden has recently directed productions in El Dorado for the Second Stage Acting Troupe, SAAC’s Youth Theatre program and Barton Junior High where he is the theatre director. Nooner studied theatre at Harding University and has worked in professional, community, and educational theatre. Hayden’s favorite thing about directing is helping a cast create a story with a memorable creative experience.

Director Lynn Gunter is a SAAC stage veteran. She calls theatre family and strives to inspire, challenge, and keep each of her students safe. “I always make them a promise: I will not let them go onstage unprepared or embarrassed of their work product even if it causes me extra work,” Gunter says. SAAC Drama Club promises to offer the best show possible in acting, singing, sets, props, and costumes. “Each cast member always gets the very best of my efforts to encourage, train, and guide them along.” Gunter speaks for both Cassie Hickman and SAAC when she states, “our hearts are for these young people.”

Cassie Hickman is a SAAC all-star. At SAAC, she teaches drama and music for pre-k -1st graders and Mommy and Me. At home she just completed her 28th, and final, year as a homeschool mom. Her first show on the SAAC stage was a homeschool production of Alice in Wonderland in 2015. Since then, she has been the music director for Drama Club, Youth Theatre, Penguin Project productions including Fiddler on the Roof, Annie, Frozen, Seussical, and Wizard of Oz. She was also the assistant director for Sherlock Holmes and the First Baker Street Irregular, A Christmas Carol, and The Enchanted Bookshop. Cassie also took the stage by storm when she played the role of Rosie in SAAC’s Summer Musical Mamma Mia!

The Community Theatre production, sponsored by Nexans AmerCable and Southern Bancorp, will host auditions August 28-29 at 7:00pm. The Drama Club production, sponsored by Southern Airways Express, will host auditions for the youth edition August 29 & 31 at 4pm. Auditions for both productions of Once Upon a Mattress will be held at South Arkansas Arts Center, 110 E 5th Street in El Dorado.

Come be a part of a fun and timeless musical stage production! For more information, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474