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Summer Theatre kicks off with "Into the Woods"

on in Summer Theatre News

Into the WoodsWhat would happen if everyone suddenly had their wildest dreams fulfilled? That is the premise of “Into the Woods,” one of Broadways most successful musicals. Stephen Sondheim (music) and James Lapine (book) first staged the show 30 years ago, and it has been produced on and off Broadway frequently ever since.

Director Chris Jones and a group of young professionals are bringing the classic story to the stage for the opening of The Prizery’s 2017 Summer Theatre Celebration. Jones acknowledges that this is one of the largest challenges the summer theatre program has faced and praises the team he has assembled for their talents and work ethic.

“Into the Woods” is divided into two acts that ask hard questions of the characters and present complex themes of what it means to be a parent and what are the responsibilities of individuals in society.

Sondheim and Lapine have built a story around some familiar fairy tales and added some new characters and plot lines to create a world where anything is possible, but consequences are sometimes difficult to control.

In the beginning, all characters open their stories with the same words, “I wish.” All wishes can be fulfilled by going “Into the Woods,” but characters are cautioned, “Be careful not to lose the way.”

Cinderella, Jack (of beanstalk fame), Red Riding Hood and a Baker and his wife among others have wishes waiting to come true and are willing to risk everything to make dreams a reality.

The woods themselves are often inviting and sometimes threatening. Jones and his design team have created a beautiful set that uses lighting effects that go from inviting to menacing as required.

Samantha McCormick and Joseph Strange are masterful artists who have been working day and night to complete the decorating of the set before opening night.

William Milligan has been spending equal time to provide the dozens of lighting effects needed for the performances. The ultimate result is a place where characters can be excited to enter “to see, to sell, to get, to make, to live and to go to the festival.”

The look of the stage is important to the story telling, and it is one of Summer Theatre’s most beautiful, both for its splendor and its darkness.

There are a number of stock fairy-tale characters, including a wolf, a giant, a witch and a most unusual cow. The costuming for this group of characters is challenging, and two talented individuals have pulled out all the stops for special looks. Jacob Miller and Briann Hemp have created a most realistic wolf, a magical witch and one of the most lovable cows ever to hit the stage.

Milky White is brought to life by local actor Minjune Kim and will delight audiences with some unusual antics. In addition, the costume crew is outfitting a total cast of more than 20 actors, singers and dancers to bring the fairy tale land to life.

“Into the Woods” is one of Broadway’s greatest hits for its meaningful themes, beautiful music and use of popular fairy tales to convey the story. Audiences will soon learn that there is a lot more here than a simple fairy story.

But as fairy tales are meant to be learning experiences for young people, this is designed to entertain and educate more mature and sophisticated groups. Jones has assembled a cast of experienced performers from across the country.

Filling the role of the witch is Kelly Glyptis. She is back at The Prizery after her performances last summer in “Carousel” and “West Side Story.” Glyptis has extensive theatrical experience including stints with the Atlanta Opera and Virginia Opera.

Reagan Ogle returns to the local stage as one of Cinderella’s step sisters as well as choreographer for all of the summer productions. Jones praises her expertise and adds, “Regan has taken over blocking and directing for parts of the show and has been a great help.”

As opening night approaches, the preparations are literally nonstop on The Prizery stage. The cast is working to polish their presentation, and all of the supporting crew members are applying finishing touches on the show.

Jones is excited for opening night and says, “Audiences will be in for some surprises with this show.”

Some of the surprises are special effects, and some are just how amazing the talent is on stage.

“Into the Woods” opens Friday at 7:30 p.m. Additional evening performances are June 17, 23 and 24. Matinee performances are set for June 18, 21 and 25 at 3.

Tickets are available at The Prizery box office or by calling 434-572-8339. Make plans to take one’s own trip “Into the Woods” and learn how wishes really do come true.

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