Pinecrest Players Go 'Into the Woods'
Take a stroll "Into the Woods" and enjoy a delightful production of this Tony Award-winning hit, presented by the Pinecrest Players.
This spring production was chosen to showcase the talents of the students at Pinecrest High School and will be performed Friday, March 1, through Sunday, March 3.
First shown on Broadway in 1987, the show, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, has been produced many times, among them a national tour, a London production, a 2002 Broadway revival, as part of New York City's outdoor Central Park series, and on television.
Adam Faw, the artistic and technical director of Pinecrest's theater program, says "Into the Woods" was chosen because "I had gotten some good recommendations about it from friends in high school and college drama departments and thought it would be a good fit for our students. When I mentioned it as a possibility to Erin Plisco, the director of choral studies at Pinecrest, she jumped on it. She has a real passion for this particular musical."
Faw explains that it is a tough show to do, since the score is so incredibly difficult.
"Last year's show, 'Sweet Charity,' was dance-oriented, so this year we wanted a show that was musically intense," he says. "Erin and I share a number of students who are very talented as actors and singers, so we had a phenomenal core group of students who have risen to the challenge of doing the show."
"Into the Woods" intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales and follows them to explore the consequences of the characters' wishes and quests.
The characters are taken from "Little Red Riding Hood," "Jack and the Beanstalk," "Rapunzel" and "Cinderella," as well as several others. The musical is tied together in an original story involving a baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family, and their interaction with a witch who places a curse on them.
The main challenge facing Faw and Plisco was to find a way to put 65 people on stage in a show that normally is performed by 25 people.
"We had to get creative with the casting," says Faw. "For example, we split the narrator's role into multiple characters, we added a number of stepsisters to Cinderella's story, we have an ensemble of dancers portraying birds, and another ensemble of 15, speaking as one, doing a part that was a solo in the original production. We didn't want to exclude anyone who had showed enthusiasm about being in the show."
A number of seniors take leading roles, but underclassmen are also well-represented in the cast.
Graham Leonard, a senior who played the dance club owner in last year's production, is cast as the Baker. In the role of his wife is junior Briana Berk. Lindsey Houseman (Cinderella) and Maddie Currier (Little Red Riding Hood) are both juniors.
The Wolf is portrayed by Killian Poplyk, a senior. Poplyk will be remembered as the Cat in the Hat from the 2011 Pinecrest show "Seussical: The Musical," and in Moore OnStage and Taylor Dance productions. He is joined by seniors Rebekah Shamberger as Rapunzel and Miranda Allen as the Witch.
Backstage crew members are led by senior stage managers Ashley Raper and Claire Sellers. The technical director is Cody Godwin, also a senior, and the choreographer is Chrissy Boals.
Plisco is directing the 15-piece orchestra. Made up of a balance of professionals and students, this year's orchestra is a little more professional-heavy because of the difficulty of the Sondheim score, although Adam Faw says, "We try to get as many students in the pit as possible."
According to Faw and Plisco, the score is full of very tricky rhythms, and the key signatures change frequently. In addition, there is repetition that is never the same way twice.
"Our students have responded very well to the immense difficulty that Sondheim has worked into the score," says Faw. "We are very fortunate to have students who have been trained well at elementary and middle school levels, and every year it is rewarding to see a new group stepping up for auditions."
Mary McKeithen, from Showboat Costumes, is creating the costumes for "Into the Woods."
"This is a simpler production costume-wise as most of the characters just wear one costume - no multiple costume changes required," says Faw.
He also points out that the set is simpler than in past years.
Primarily located in a woodsy setting, the Pinecrest production utilizes some lightweight set pieces that do double-duty. For example, on one side is the setting of the fireplace at Cinderella's house, while on the other side is Jack's domain. Also in use are several platforms for the back of the stage.
Performances of "Into the Woods" will be on Friday and Saturday evenings, March 1 and 2, at 7 p.m., with a Sunday matinee on March 3, at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $12 for general admission, $10 for children under 12, and may be purchased at the door.
Contact Mary Elle Hunter at mehunter email@example.com.
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