An old tale about finding a royal wife using several mattresses and a pea is being staged in Norcross this weekend.

The Lionheart Theatre is performing “The Princess and The Pea” this week as part of its summer performance series. The 50-minute play tells Hans Christian Anderson’s old story of a woman who has to prove she is a real princess, and worthy of marriage, by sleeping on a pea that is covered by a stack of mattresses.

“I try to find things that kids are not familiar with — not Spongebob, not Pokemon — just some kind of classic so they can learn this old story,” said Tanya Caldwell, who is the Lionheart Theatre’s founder and artistic director as well as the director for the play.

The play opened Wednesday and will continue through Sunday at the Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center, which is located at 10 College St. in downtown Norcross.

There will be six performances between Friday and Sunday alone. Friday’s shows will be performed at 1 and 7:30 p.m., while there will also be performances at 11 a.m. and 1 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and a 2 p.m. performance on Sunday.

Caldwell said the play is adapted to not run so long that it loses the interest of children in the audience.

There is more to the story of “The Princess and The Pea” than, well, a princess and a pea, however. There’s also a little bit everything for the audience.

“Well the prince is bound to marry — he has to marry — and in order to find the perfect girl, there are several tests that the scholars have made up that she would have to pass,” Caldwell said.

“He travels the world to find the perfect wife, and she ends up being the one he comes across in the woods that the witch is trying to take over — and there is a witch in this and bad guys and good guys — but in the long run the queen’s version of choosing a delicate princess is take a small pea and put it at the bottom of 30 mattresses stacked on top of one another.”

And, yes, the theater troupe did try to find a way to stack 30 mattresses on top of each other for the pivotal part of the story which helps give the tale it’s name.

“We made a bed that has 30 mattresses, well they’re actually pool noodles that we wrapped,” Caldwell said. “It’s really quite clever.”

Caldwell said there are some treats for audience members at each performance as well. After the play ends, the theater troupe will serve cookies and punch to the audience.

People who go to see the play will also get a chance to meet members of the cast after the show ends.

“On the back of our program, there’s a place for (cast) autographs,” Caldwell said. “The kids just flock to the actors to get their autographs.”

There are about 17 cast members, ranging in age from about 13 to 70.

The actors include Rhonda Block, Ben Cohn, Janet Conant, Gracie Crofton, Maddie Crofton, Taylor Davidson, Audrey Dempster, Aisling Duffy, Bob Grossman, Cara Hendsbee, Sally Killingsworth, Perry McWilliams, Annie Grace Pritchett, Pamelyn Rubin, Rebecca Jonas Rubin, Raul Ruletta and Hunter Showalter.

Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased through a link available at The theater is encouraging anyone interested in seeing the show to reserve their tickets in advance.

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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