Once Upon a Musical

In Queens, NY, the Lexington School for the Deaf, the Repertory Company High School for the Performing Arts, and Queens Theatre came together to produce Once Upon a Mattress starring both Deaf/Hard of Hearing and hearing actors. In this short doc, we experience their process of coming together to create a new form of theatrical celebration. This project is a collaboration between Queens Theatre, the Lexington School for the Deaf, the Repertory Company High School, and ChipAway Productions.

  • D. Preston Cato
    Common Ground: Survivors, Be My Oswald, Dixie Lanes
  • Katha F Cato
    Be My Oswald, Common Ground:Survivors
  • Lexington School for the Deaf
    Key Cast
  • Repertory Company High School for the Performing Arts
    Key Cast
  • Queens Theatre
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    23 minutes 47 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 1, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    American Sign Language, English
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - D. Preston Cato

A former Landscape Architect, Don was raised on a specialty fruit farm in Fredonia, New York and has enjoyed a varied and wide ranging career winning awards for his films, photography, live performances, landscape design and contributions to his community.
He earned a BSLA and a BLA from Michigan State and his MLA from the University of Oregon and along the way found time to attend The Orson Welles Film School in Cambridge, MA, where he studied with Cinematographer Austin DeBesche and at the Maine Media Cinematography Workshop where he studied with Laszlo Kovacs and won the “Most Electricity” Award for his workshop short.
Among Cato’s many short films, his stop-motion Pipeline Patrol (1976) won a Silver Medal at the 26th Cannes Amateur Film Festival and was selected to screen by the National Film Board of Canada, the Stratford Ontario Film Festival, the Tokyo International Film Competition at the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art, and earned an ANNIE from American Society of Animators-East.
In 1978, he made “one of the first American film journals” China Dawning, Behind Silk Curtains, a highly praised immersive documentary on The People’s Republic of China.
In 1986 he packaged and directed his first feature, Dixie Lanes, with Karen Black, Hoyt Axton, Moses Gunn, Tina Louise and Nina Foch which was released by Miramax in 1987 to over 40 countries and twice CBS Movie of the Week. His second feature, the award winning dark comedy Be My Oswald, has been critically compared to Dr. Strangelove and Shallow Grave.
Currently Don teaches at the New York Digital Film Academy and is the Artistic Director for the Queens World Film Festival.

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Director Statement

The opportunity to witness this extraordinary project was so much more than the opportunity to document the production. We are grateful to have been invited, allowed to experience the life changing event as it unfolded.