Does marrying a prince really lead to a happy and fulfilling life? And just what does one do with a dead giant in the back yard?
These and other outcomes of familiar fairy tales are in the spotlight as the West Virginia University Divisions of Music and Theatre and Dance combine their talents for the Tony Award-winning musicalInto the Woods,by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine.
The musical features fairy tales, such asJack and the Beanstalk,Cinderella,Little Red Riding Hood,Sleeping Beauty,Snow WhiteandRapunzel,but deals with consequences that traditional fairy tales conveniently ignore. Ultimately, all of the characters in the stories must deal with what happens afterhappily ever after.
Into the Woodsopens Tuesday, April 12, at 7:30 p.m. There will also be performances April 13 and 15 at 7:30 p.m., and one-act student matinees April 14 and 15 at 10 a.m. There will be a special Family Matinee Day on Saturday, April 16, with a one-actfamily friendlyperformance at 3:15 p.m. All performances will be held in the CAC s Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre. The April 13 evening performance of the musical will be interpreted for the hearing impaired.
The musical blends the fairy tales with the story of a childless baker and his wife, who bring about the action by attempting to reverse a curse on their family in order to have a child.
In the first act, the characters set out on various quests in hopes of achieving their happy endings: Cinderella goes to the ball and captures the heart of Prince Charming, Jack climbs the beanstalk and finds a land of giants and gold, Little Red Riding Hood survives her clash with the wolf at Grandmas house, and Rapunzel manages to escape her tower with the aid of a handsome prince who climbs her long hair. The baker and his wife move through the stories while pursuing their own goal. The witch has put a curse on them and agrees to lift it only if they can find the magic ingredients:a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold.They gather the ingredients, strip the witch of her power, and at the end of Act I all the characters seem poised to live happily ever after.
Act II, however, is a bit dark, as the characters suffer the real-life consequences of their actions. Is carving up the wolf the solution? Is the giant always bad? As they face a genuine threat to their community, they realize that all actions have consequences and their lives are inescapably interdependent, but also that interdependence is their greatest strength.
AnUpfront&Backstagepre-show presentation will take place prior to the Family Matinee Day performance April 16. This presentation, which begins at 2 p.m., will allow the audience to meet the people behind the scenes, tour backstage, and visit the shops where the scenery, props, and costumes are created. The presentation will begin in the lobby of the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre. It will be followed by afamily friendlyone-act reprise of the musical. Although the second half of the musical is a bit dark, the first act is exactly what fairy tales should be�€short, sweet and perfect for audiences of all ages. Join the College of Creative Arts and bring the whole family for this special performance.
Also, the April 13 performance is dedicated to the outstanding board members and leaders of the various arts organizations in the Morgantown community. The College of Creative Arts invites all patrons of the arts to help us thank the tireless efforts of the leaders who serve Morgantown in their efforts to create and nurture the arts.
Guest Artist Bob Durkin is the director ofInto the Woods.He is a director, choreographer, performer and teacher whose work has been represented both nationally and internationally in tours of shows such asThe Unsinkable Molly Brown,Dreamgirls,Hello Dolly!andAint Misbehavin.In 1997 he received the Connecticut Critics Circle Award for outstanding choreography for his work on the national tour ofSeven Brides for Seven Brothers.
He was Tommy Tunes co-choreographer for the pre-Broadway workshops of Irvin BerlinsEaster Parade,starring Tommy Tune and Sandy Duncan, in both Sydney, Australia, and in New York City. He also worked many years with the late Broadway director Phillip Oesterman. He is a graduate of the Boston Conservatory of Music.
The cast ofInto the Woodsincludes WVU music and theatre students: Trevor Nicholas (the baker); Chris Romich (the bakers wife); Kristina Driskill (the witch); Brian Ruppenkamp (mysterious man/narrator); Josh Jannotta (Jack); Shannon Pugh (Jacks mother); Jessica Mariotti (Cinderella); Joe Andria (Cinderellas prince); Joanie Brittingham (Little Red Riding Hood); Dan Stevens (the wolf); Ann Kincaid (Rapunzel); Benjamin Bell (Rapunzels prince); Stefanie Nesser (stepmother); Kodi McLachlin (Lucinda); Laurie Racculia (Florinda); Matt Kessler (Cinderellas father); Jennifer Vanderholm (Cinderellas mother); Ginger Brannon (Little Reds grandmother); Jamie Froemel (the stewart); Sarah Lynch (Sleeping Beauty); Kristal Medina (Snow White); and Linda Milian (voice of the giant).
The artistic director is Margaret McKowen, chair of the Division of Theatre and Dance, and associate director is Theresa M. Davis, associate professor of theatre. Music director is Robert Thieme, professor of music.
The production staff includes scenery designer James Held, associate professor of theatre; costume designer, WVU student Lesley Sorenson, who won second place at the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) for her costume designs for this show; lighting designer, Joshua Williamson, assistant professor of theatre; fight choreographer and movement coach Jessica Morgan, assistant professor of theatre; fight captain, WVU student Brian Ruppenkamp; and dance captain, WVU student Joe Spellman.
The production staff also includes guest artists Jason Pruzin, sound design, and Nicole Frachiseur, cutter/draper. Pruzin is currently in his third year as resident sound designer for The Arkansas Repertory Theatre. He has worked with Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Mobius Group (off-Broadway), in Utah with Company of Fools, and at Barksdale Theatre, among others. Frachiseur, a WVU alumna, received her MFA in costume design
in 2003 and served a professional internship with The Juilliard School. She is currently a freelance crafts artisan working for places such as Rodney Gordon Studios in New York, The Juilliard School, Great Lakes Theatre Festival and The Idaho Shakespeare Festival.
The production director forInto the Woodsis Assistant Professor of Theatre Josh Frachiseur and dramaturg is Assistant Professor of Theatre Jay Malarcher. Technical director is WVU theatre student Justin Walsh.
Tickets are $11 for the general public and $9 for WVU faculty and staff, senior citizens, students and children.
For tickets or more information, call the Mountainlair or CAC Box Offices at (304) 293-SHOW. Schools interested in attending matinee productions should contact the Division of Theatre and Dance at (304) 293-4841 ext. 3120. Special ticket prices are available for groups of 10 or more.