Rangeley Friends of the Arts to run “Into the Woods”

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The Rangeley Friends of the Arts is making final preparations for this year’s musical INTO THE WOODS. There will be 4 shows to be held August 21-24 at the Lakeside Theater in Rangeley. Performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be at 7PM–tickets $15; performance on Sunday will be at 2PM-tickets $12.

Tickets are available at the Rangeley Region Chamber of Commerce at 864-5364.

The original production ran for 764 performances on Broadway and had a 17-month national tour in 1988. The original cast featured Bernadette Peters (the Witch) and Joanna Gleason (the Baker’s Wife). The music and lyrics written by Stephen Sondheim was based on the book by James Lapine.

Once Upon a Time, a Baker (Tim Straub) and his Wife (Sue Downes-Borko) journey into the woods on a quest to lift a witch’s (Erin Smith) curse. On the way they cross paths with Little Red Riding Hood (Samantha Olivieri), Rapunzel (Rhea Golub), Cinderella (Alicia Frost-Kolva), and a menagerie of other fairy tale characters. They pursue individual wishes until their stories become entangled in unexpected ways – revealing what happens after “happily ever after.” Stephen Sondheim’s wickedly witty score weaves a magical spell with such bewitching gems as “Children Will Listen,” “Giants In The Sky” “Agony” and “No One Is Alone.”

The cast of Into the Woods (front then back, and left to right) Andreas Wyder, Les Hoekstra, Samantha Olivieri, Erin Smith, Tim Straub, Connor Durgin, Anna Soule, Deb Mason, Alicia Frost-Kolva, Erik Mason, Alix Mason, Rhea Golub,
Joan Dunlap, Sue Downes-Borko and Sean Danforth.

The Narrator (Joan Dunlap) leads the company through The Prologue” as we learn about a series of wishes that are more important than anything – even life itself – to these characters. Cinderella wants to go to the King’s Festival; Jack (Andreas Wyder) wishes his cow could give milk; and the Baker (who believes his parents were killed in a baking accident) wishes he and his Wife could have a child. As these characters express their wishes, we meet Cinderella’s Stepmother (Pam Ellis) and stepsisters (Alix Mason, Laurie Hunt) who laugh at the idea of her going to a ball; Jack’s aging mother (Anna Soule) who wishes for a lot of gold and a less foolish son; and Little Red Ridinghood, who comes to buy bread, sticky buns and pies from the Baker and his Wife before starting her journey into the woods to see her sick Grandmother (Deb Mason).

We learn Jack’s cow (whom Jacks foolishly persists in referring to as “he”) is no longer giving milk. Jack’s Mother says he must sell the cow so they can survive. He is crushed because he thinks the cow is his best friend, but sets off to the market to sell it. Leaving Cinderella in tears, her family rides off to the ball without her.

The Baker and his Wife learn the Witch next door, a humpbacked crone with long gnarled fingers, has placed a curse on them to prevent their having a child. She explains the Baker’s father had stolen various vegetables from her garden many years ago to satisfy his wife’s insatiable desire for greens. He also stole the Witch’s magic beans. To punish him for the theft, she demanded and had been given the Baker’s sister; a sibling the Baker never knew existed. She claims she still has the Baker’s sister hidden away and that he can break the spell that makes him childless only by bringing her a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn and a slipper as pure as gold.

The Baker puts on his father’s old jacket as he prepares to journey into the woods. He finds six beans in the pockets and wonders if they are the Witch’s magic beans. He forbids his Wife to join him on this dangerous quest as he tries to memorize the list of things the Witch says he must deliver. As “The Prologue” ends, Cinderella decides to visit her mother’s grave.

In telling his tale, Sondheim intertwines many of Grimm’s fairy tales. Into the Woods has become one of Sondheim’s most popular works; this timeless yet relevant piece is a rare modern classic. It has been described as a spellbounding score, witty enough to make old stories fresh for adults, lovely enough to enchant youngsters.

The final reprise of “Into The Woods” reminds us there will be times when each of us must journey into the woods but that we must mind the future and the past.

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