Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Go to the Woods

The Community School Middle School performs “Into the Woods, Jr.”

Express Staff Writer

From left to right, The Community School Middle School performers are Josie Bunce, Maddie Caraluzzi, Arielle Nicolai (kneeling), Hannah Dies, Jolie Blair and Hailey Rheinschild. Courtesy photo by Tibby Plasse

When Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel are all joined together, a wild adventure surely will ensue. The adventure is "Into the Woods, Jr." adapted from the Tony award-winning Broadway musical "Into the Woods," with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and based on the book by James Lapine.

The Community School Middle School will perform "Into the Woods, Jr." for its spring musical production at the school's theater in Sun Valley on Friday, April 25, at 7 p.m., Saturday, April 26, at 6 p.m. and Sunday, April 27, at 3 p.m. for a family matinee. Tickets are $5.

"Into the Woods, Jr." is a different take on the classic fairy tales written by the Brothers Grimm. A witch visits a baker and his wife to tell the couple they cannot conceive any children because they are cursed. In order to remove the curse, the couple must find four ingredients for a magic potion, which will lift the curse and allow the couple to start a family.

The baker and his wife go "into the woods" to search for the sacred ingredients, encountering Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Jack and Rapunzel along the way. The funny and inventive musical turns the classic fairy tales upside down, offering young people another viewpoint on modern-day and ethical issues.

"I like the idea of storytelling and that kids can be kids," said Community School seventh-grade drama teacher Joel Vilinsky. "It's a fun story and takes the fairy tales on twists and turns."

The play has close to 50 middle school students participating in the production; however, a junior production is not the full-length original Broadway musical.

"It's important for the kids to be on stage and shine," Vilinsky said. "They don't always get that chance and it's important for them to get that recognition."

With so many students in the production, Vilinsky said with a laugh, you can't control the production—you contain it. But students get to bring their ideas to the stage and it's always interesting to see what unfolds.

"It's not just about academics," Vilinsky said. "It's about true teamwork. Everyone has to depend on one another. I think a trend is that everything is becoming pure academics. How do we express ourselves? All the arts are human beings being human."

This is the eighth year for the middle school plays. Besides being on stage, students are encouraged to assist with set building. Since there are no professionals, the students can own the production. For more information, call 622-3960, ext. 138.

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