It has big songs and a novel plot and the cast of Into the Woods is taking on the musical production with great enthusiasm according to Ballenas Secondary School theatre teacher Doug Campbell.
The musical is a mash-up of numerous characters from familiar literature: Cinderella, Little Red Riding-hood, Jack (of Beanstalk fame) and Rapunzel. The fairy-tale and fable characters from the woods are united and strive to get their wishes and deal with the consequences of those wishes.
With music and lyrics by Steven Sondheim and a story by James Lapine, Into the Woods has intertwined the stories of the familiar fairy tales with an original story of a childless baker and his wife. The couple are the focus of the story and attempt to reverse a curse on their family in order to have a child, ultimately creating a single even bigger fairy tale.
The Whalebone Theatre production is a family-friendly musical for all ages and will take place February 22, 23, 24, 28, 29 and March 1.
Campbell admitted it is a difficult show to take on but he is confident his young performers will rise to the challenge. He said they have already had one minor setback when they lost one of their lead actors but as they say in the business the show must go on.
Grade 9 student Nikolas Kurelja, the lighting operator, has stepped into the role of Cinderella’s prince and Campbell told the cast at a recent rehearsal that there is always a solution to every problem and as long as they stay up they will get through it.
“All of the students are very committed,” he stated.
Rehearsals began in September and with less than two weeks until show time, Campbell said he couldn’t be more pleased with the progress.
Assisting with the vocal direction is Grade 10 student Belle Warner-Verney, who also has the role of the baker’s wife. Warner-Verney is no stranger to musical theatre and has been described by many as one to watch.
Thea Stavroff, who runs the junior musical program in District 69 through Dolphin Bay Music and Island Academy of Children’s Theatre (IACT), said Warner-Verney is now a senior member of the group and is the assistant director in their upcoming children’s production, The Return of the Glass Slipper.
“She has had leads in many of our shows and has come up through the ranks. Now she has taken on the role of a mentor to our younger group. She works with me to help them bring out all of their character work and provides a lot of leadership.”
Stavroff agreed that not only does Warner-Verney have a strong and well trained beautiful voice, she also exudes confidence on the stage and is willing to help her fellow actors.
“She shines on stage. People love to work with her because of her enthusiasm and talent. She is very generous on stage and helpful behind the scenes,” admitted Stavroff.
During a dress rehearsal for Into the Woods Warner-Verney showed confidence as she directed her fellow cast members through their musical numbers.
There were some forgotten lyrics but with assistance from Warner-Verney, the spirited cast was keen to push through their scenes during their first dress rehearsal February 8.
Grade 12 student Stephanie Goulet, who has been cast as the baker, said it is difficult playing a male role but she is up to the challenge. It is her first time playing a leading role for a musical and she said she is confident with her singing even though she has to change her range.
“For a musical person like me I love it. I am happy with the fact that I get to play a male because I get to challenge myself,” she said, but admitted she has a big role to master.
“I can sing as a guy … that is not hard, but acting as a guy is challenging. I watch a lot of movies where girls play guys, like She’s the Man. I have watched that over and over,” she stated.
Goulet is hoping after she graduates and goes into early childhood education she can do some theatre on the side, “because I don’t want to lose acting. Acting is my life and I try my hardest in all I do.”
The Whalebone Theatre production takes place February 22, 23, 24, 28, 29 and March 1.