by Dennis Dalman
A search that goes deeper and deeper into the woods is the mysterious plot of Into the Woods, the Stephen Sondheim musical that will be performed April 30-May 2 at Sartell High School.
Performances, which are free for senior citizens and children under 5, are set for 7 p.m. on both Thursday, April 30 and Friday, May 1 and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, May 2.
The show will feature 21 actors and the work of 18 crew members.
Into the Woods, told mainly through song, is the story of a childless couple, a baker and his wife, who would like a child but who must first undo a witch’s curse against them. To do so, they must go into the woods on a kind of scavenger hunt to find a red cape, a white cow, yellow hair and a golden slipper.
In creating their musical, Sondheim and writer James Lapine blended characters and imagery from numerous fairy tales written in the 19th century by the Brothers Grimm. The tales include Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk.
Like those often dark and even morbid stories, Into the Woods is a sprightly tale but one with somber shadings. Its themes include parent-child relationships, the frivolity of wishes, the consequence of choices and the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions.
“The students have been working incredibly hard since January on this show,” said Tom Kuhn, SHS instructional technology specialist and co-director of the musical. “The music is difficult because of its rhythms and numerous key changes, but they are rising to the challenge. I am proud of them.”
Kuhn said the play’s co-director, Kelli Killmer, has been challenging the students to delve into the themes of the show by doing writing exercises.
“I think that really helps the students learn about the show itself and – more importantly – about their own lives,” Kuhn said.
Into the Woods premiered on Broadway in New York City in 1987. It has since been performed in major cities throughout the world to wide acclaim and many awards for its productions, music and acting. Last year, it was made into a major Oscar-nominated movie with a stand-out performance by Meryl Streep as the witch.
The student actors in Into the Woods are as follows, in the order of when they first speak in the play: Narrator: Tessa Schmitz; Cinderella: Mackenzie Krueger; Jack: Aidan Speckhard; Baker: Jake Martin; Baker’s Wife: Alyana Paulson-Trombley; Stepmother: Miranda Garman; Florinda: Laura Carlson; Lucinda: Kayley Isaacson; Jack’s Mother: Katie Kulus; Little Red Riding Hood: Hannah Kosloski; Witch: Maia Trombley; Cinderella’s Father: Jaren Martin; Cinderella’s Mother/Sleeping Beauty: Emma Gunderson; Mysterious Man: Nate Miller; Wolf: Nick Hill; Rapunzel: Eden Garman; Rapunzel’s Prince: Will Bachman; Granny: Nicole Yang; Cinderella’s Prince: Kent Edeburn; Steward: Alex Metteer; and Giant’s Wife/Snow White: Renee Schroeder.
The crew for the play includes, in alphabetical order: Stage managers Blayne Gardner and Kylie Zochert; Airianna Beitler; Hannah Bous; Mickey Czech; Reece Decker; Nate Hughes; Kaleb Fisher; Alyssa Franzmeier; Tyler Kadlec; Samantha Killmer; Rebekah Kucala; Justin Miller; Jonathon Mills; Samantha Schiller; Samantha Somdalen; John Unger; and Ali Wicklund.