Fractured fairy tales in NorthwoodNorthwood high school students take audiences “Into the Woods” this weekend, where a handful of fractured fairy tales mingle, providing a grim view on what comes post- “happily every after.”
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Northwood high school students take audiences “Into the Woods” this weekend, where a handful of fractured fairy tales mingle, providing a grim view on what comes post- “happily every after.”
It’s a departure from past years, which have featured such upbeat productions as “A Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Peter Pan.”
The musical stirs together the tales of Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and the Baker and his Wife as they wander “Into the Woods.”
It opens with characters searching for what they want – to attend the King’s festival, for a child, or just to get a cow to give milk. By the end of the first act, they get their desires, but the story doesn’t end there.
“You may know what you want, but to get what you need better see that you keep what you have,” said Teagen Harings, who plays the role of the Baker’s Wife. “That’s one of my lines in a song.”
A second act, dominated by a tragedy, discontent and a giant foe, ends with a final message to be careful what you pass on to your children.
“Life still goes on,” said director Katie Phelan. “I think that’s the moral of the story – you learn from the mistakes you made and you move on and it’s a good lesson for everyone.”
The Tony Award-winning musical is filled with hummable tunes, flashes of humor and a host of real-life dilemmas for these storybook characters to face.
“It’s a little bit different than any other fairy tale; it’s a little darker,” said April McNamera, who plays the role of Rapunzel. “It makes you think; makes you reflect on your own life a little bit more.”
The humor is sly.
“There’s a lot of little jokes, too, that lighten the mood,” said Travis Butterfield, who plays the role of Jack.
The production presents vocal and dramatic challenges for the ensemble cast.
“It definitely makes us test our abilities,” said Tressa Harings, who portrays Cinderella.
Phelan, a high school math teacher, has been waiting years to stage the musical, her favorite.
“Right now we have the perfect set of people,” she said.
Twins Kyle and Cole Brown, as the two princes, add a dose of playfulness while bemoaning their love lives in Agony and Agony Reprise. After pining for and winning their respective princesses, the reprise describes their disillusionment and yearning for another pair of storybook beauties – Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Playing brothers comes naturally, said Kyle Brown with a grin. And they enjoy their larger-than-life roles.
“It’s energetic; I like that, the energy,” said Cole Brown. “It’s a fairy tale so you get to be very animated and just out there and crazy.”
The Harings sisters bring sweet soprano voices to their roles, and Jessica Bickell adds raw emotion as Little Red Riding Hood. When Red realizes her family, now dead, would not approve of what she’s about to do during the song “No One is Alone,” the actress sheds real tears.
“With this play, all the parts are important,” Tressa Harings said. “There’s not really one person who’s more important than anything else. It also means that we all have to put in 100 percent otherwise it would show.”
The cast and crew went all-out on the tree-dotted background, as well.
“We all have 72 hours in working on the set,” said Teagen Harings. “We started two months ago.”
Phelan said she is proud of the work the students have put into the musical.
“I cannot believe the talent we’ve got out here,” she said.
In return, the young thespians appreciate how their director has nurtured the school’s drama club. About four years ago, Phelan decided she wanted to put on plays and get people involved, Tressa Harings said.
“And she did,” added her sister, Teagen. “Our drama club grew and I think we’re all really close.”
Although they put in two seven-hour days over the weekend, the cast was still enthusiastic to act out scenes Monday. They encouraged people to come and watch “Into the Woods.” The hard work has really paid off, they said, and audience members will leave humming the tunes.
Performances will take place at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Northwood School auditorium. Tickets for the show are $7 for adults, $5 for students, $3 for youth ages 12-4 and children under age 4 can attend for free. Tickets are available from cast members, at the school or at the door.