Looking for a night of laughs, chills and song on the local stage? Then don’t miss “Into the Woods,” which debuts July 15 in downtown La Salle.
Looking for a light-hearted show the whole family can enjoy? Better call the babysitter and make “Into the Woods” a parents’ night out.
Stage 212 selected the Tony Award-winning musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine for its summer program and believe “Into the Woods” will be a hit — with most audiences, that is.
The script is drawn from fairy tales and not the kind that Disney has adapted into G-rated films. Instead, “Into the Woods” is adapted from the dark, edgy tales of the Brothers Grimm — the scary ones that might have once given you bad dreams.
“It’s a dark comedy, but it is also a musical — there’s music almost throughout the whole thing – and there is some sexual innuendo, as well,” said Kevin Alleman, who makes his directorial debut with Stage 212. “And these are the original Grimm stories, so there are things like people getting their eyes plucked out, getting their feet cut off.”
The story follows a baker and his wife who were cursed by a witch and thus unable to have children. To break the witch’s spell, they venture into the woods to procure magical items from fairy tale characters such as Rumpelstiltskin, Cinderella and Rapunzel.
Simon Tiffin plays the baker and said a few things attracted him to the role. He was steeped in the rich music at an early age — “This is a show that was very loved in my family” — and he became intrigued with how the writers used fairy tales as a medium to tackle real-life problems such as the generation gap and interpersonal conflict.
“Sondheim balances fantasy elements with realism,” said Tiffin, a musician who’s making his Stage 212 debut. “He takes the opportunity to tell a story about very real things through the lens of fairy tales, and ones that are very well known.”
The collision of the familiar and the modern provides the perfect backdrop for laughs as well as dramatic twists that take an edgy turn in Act II. Shea Rathburn narrates the show in her Stage 212 debut and helps bridge the disparate elements into a seamless whole.
“It’s definitely one of the most complex shows I’ve ever been in,” Rathburn said. “I was a little familiar with it, but this was my first time delving into the characters and story. Even though there’s a darker element, there’s a lot of humor, there’s a lot of heart in all the characters and it’s a lot of fun.”
Mounting “Into the Woods” has been a challenge because all involved were masked during auditions and rehearsals — Stage 212 pledges to follow all COVID-19 guidance, even as the pandemic loses steam — and then had to contend with a dizzying array of cues, harmonies and props.
Producer Traci Tomasson acknowledged it’s “a difficult show” to stage in terms of complexity, but the finished product is a feast for the eyes and ears.
“The music is amazing – it’s very quick and witty,” Tomasson said. “There are dark sides of it, but it’s going to be a grand show.”
Parental discretion is advised. Patrons who struggle with photosensitivity are further cautioned, as the production contains flashing lights and loud sounds.
Featured in the cast are Ashley Hurst as Cinderella, Reid Tomasson as Jack, Trisha Nicole Bagby as the baker’s wife, Megan Cullinan as Cinderella’s stepmother, Nora Maier as Florinda, Olivia Bergfeld as Lucinda, Kelly Johnson as Jack’s mother, Kylie Atkins as Little Red Riding Hood, Serena Rogers as the witch, Mike Maier as Cinderella’s father, Karen Lesman as Cinderella’s mother/granny, Jeff Sudakov as the mysterious man, Griffin Tabor as Cinderella’s prince/wolf, Ella Bergfeld as Rapunzel, Aaron Rogers as Rapunzel’s prince, Fredrick Davis as the steward, Emily Kmetz as Gretel, Andrew Beer as Pinocchio, Maddie Stanbary as Rumpelstiltskin, Sangita Allen as the Giant’s wife, Jamie Parks as Briar Rose/harp and Emily Boes as Snow White.
Aiding the production staff are assistant director Reid Tomasson, production assistants Ella Johns and Grace McCormick, stage manager Mia Carretto, casting consultant Zoe Starkey, music consultant Kristyn Szwajka, set construction coordinator Cory Tomasson, dialect coach Sidney Megeff, fight choreographer Grace Irvin, costumer Narissa Keller, sound tecnicians Mark Fulkerson and Nick Hancock, and makeup/wig coordinators Mary Arellano and Sarah Anne Hunter.
“Into The Woods” will be presented at Stage 212, 700 First St., La Salle, over three consecutive weekends: July 15-17, July 22-24 and July 29-31. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees begin at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $20 and will be available beginning Tuesday, July 5, and can be bought by visiting the box office 4-6 p.m. Mondays or 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays, or by calling 815-224-3025 during box office hours. Tickets also are available at stage212.org.
“Into The Woods” is presented through a special arrangement with Music Theatre International. All authorized performance materials also are supplied by MTI (mtishows.com).