Jonathan Alder presents ‘Into the Woods’ March 14-17

Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick
Cast members of Jonathan Alder High School’s production of “Into the Woods” rehearse a scene: (from left) Sarah Malone, Carsyn Pauly, Sarah Chin, Jason Dietry, Nate Eudaily, Samantha Pauly, Emily Wheelbarger, Alex Rodriguez, and Sophia Lowe.

(Posted March 5, 2024)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Nicholas Mayes, director of Jonathan Alder High School’s spring musical, threw down the gauntlet for his student-actors with this year’s show selection, “Into the Woods.”

The show weaves together the storylines of several familiar fairytales, from “Cinderella” and “Little Red Riding Hood” to “Rapunzel” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.” It includes terrific music, and it comes with a dark twist.

“The show is funny. It’s thought-provoking. There’s not a single character that goes on stage that’s just good or just bad. Everyone is kind of gray,” Mayes said.

The complicated characters and the music’s degree of difficulty are what make the show a challenge for any cast that takes it on.

“I thought what the kids needed was to do a show that has some real muscle to it, both musically and acting-wise,” Mayes said. “I wanted the kids to dive deeper than just the stereotypical characters they are used to.”

Senior Alex Rodriguez and junior Emily Wheelbarger play the baker and the baker’s wife, respectively, around whom the storyline revolves. The couple is trying to have a baby but a witch, played by junior Sophie Lowe, has placed a curse on them.

“Alex and Emily are doing a really good job bringing these characters to life, giving some detail to characters that aren’t well known by the audience,” Mayes said, adding that Sophie is handling the witch role well, portraying someone who is kind of evil but kind of relatable at the same time.

“The witch sings some of the most beautiful songs in the show (‘Children Will Listen’ and ‘Last Midnight’), but she’s also wicked. Musically, Sophie is really on another level.”

To break the witch’s curse, the baker and baker’s wife must gather up Jack’s cow, Rapunzel’s hair, Red Riding Hood’s cloak, and Cinderella’s shoe, creating lots of interaction among characters across the different fairytales.

“The show’s take on Cinderella is different than what people are probably used to. She’s not really going to the ball to meet her prince; she’s just going to have a good time. And she’s a lot funnier than any other version of Cinderella,” Mayes said.

The Cinderella part comes with the most difficult music in the show, he said, and senior Fiona Petticrew is handling it like a pro.

Another character who is funnier in “Into the Woods” than in other applications is Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk.

“This Jack is older and kind of a man-child. He’s not very bright at all. Joel Mitchell (a junior) is having a great time finding every little bit of funny in the role. He also has probably the most famous song in the show, ‘Giants in the Sky.’”

The cast numbers 33 in total. With added chorus members and the inclusion of lots of different types of choreography, Jonathan Alder’s presentation of “Into the Woods’ promises to be an immersive experience, said Mayes, who serves as the main director. Daniel Rodriguez-Hijo is the assistant director. Tonya Kraner is the choreographer. A full professional orchestra is providing the musical accompaniment.

Show times are 7 p.m. March 14-16 and 2 p.m. March 17. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for senior citizens (65 and older), and $11 for students. Tickets can be purchased in advance at jamb-arts.org or at the door.

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