Southeastern Louisiana University’s Opera/Music Theatre Workshop will present the Broadway musical “Into the Woods” Sept. 27 and 28, at 7:30 p.m. at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in downtown Hammond.
“Stephen Sondheim is a living Broadway legend; for the last 50 years his musicals have continually expanded the boundaries of what a Broadway musical can be,” said Charles Effler, director of the Opera/Music Theatre Workshop.
Effler said Sondheim started his Broadway career as a lyricist for Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” and Jule Styne’s “Gypsy,” which was a star vehicle for the famed Broadway belter, Ethel Merman.
With his next show, the smash hit musical comedy, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Form,” Sondheim established himself as not only a lyricist but as a composer as well, and has gone on to write the lyrics and music for 16 Broadway musicals, including “A Little Night Music,” “Sweeney Todd,” and “Into the Woods.”
Effler said “Be careful what you wish for” is an ongoing theme in “Into the Woods.” The names are familiar – Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk – but in the show, these fables conjure up cautionary morals about modern relationships, communities, and society.
“The story follows a baker and his wife who wish to have a child; Cinderella who wishes to go the King’s Festival; and Jack who wishes his cow would give some milk. When the Baker and his wife are visited by the neighborhood witch, who reveals to them that she placed a curse on their family, the two set off on a journey into the woods to reverse the curse,” Effler explained.
“Also in the woods, we meet Little Red Riding Hood, who is trying to visit her grandmother; the Wolf, who loves tasty little girls; the Witch’s daughter Rapunzel; and two vain Princes who are chasing after their loves - of the moment at least. By the end of Act I, everyone has gotten their wish and will seemingly live happily ever after,” he said.
“But in Act II, when Jack’s beanstalk brings them a visit from an angry Giant, we see how the consequences of their actions haunt them in disastrous ways. The community must come together to save each other and their kingdom, but personal sacrifices are required of them.”
Opera Workshop welcomes back guest stage director Alton Geno for this production. In addition to a long career as a performer, choreographer and director in New Orleans and around the country, Geno directed Opera Workshop’s “A Night on Broadway” last fall and has directed sold out performances of “Sweeney Todd,” as well as productions of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, “The Light in the Piazza,” “South Pacific,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Music Man.”
The cast includes Camryn Rodrigue (Thibodaux) as the Narrator; Caroline Abadie (Luling) and Haylee Zeringue (Prarieville) as Cinderella; Jason Lane (Baton Rouge) as Jack; Jaycie Chance (Amite) as Jack’s cow, Milky White; Alfred Harper (New Orleans) as the Baker; Caitlyn Rodruge (Thibodaux) as the Baker’s Wife; Emery Foster (Hammond) and Madison Wilson (Baton Rouge) as Cinderella’s Stepmother; Carly Duet (Cut Off) and Anne Labranche (Abita Springs) as Cinderella’s stepsister, Florinda; Hannah Orgeron (Boutte) and Alexa Salpietra (Belle Chasse) as the other stepsister, Lucinda.
Additional cast members are Vivian McCalman (Mandeville) as Jack’s Mother; Deondra Bell (Baton Rouge) and Cheyenne Moore (Slidell) as Little Red Ridinghood; Sara Cage (Baton Rouge) as the Witch; Hannah Turner (Central) as Rapunzel; Andrew Butler (New Orleans) as the Mysterious Man; Logan Watts (Walker) as Cinderella’s Father; Elizabeth Langley (Mandeville) as Cinderella’s Mother; Alyssa Andrews (Walker) as Little Red Ridinghood’s Grandmother; Ryan Blanchfield (Baton Rouge) and Brennan Simmons (Walker) as Cinderella’s Prince; Wesley Newton (Bourg) as Rapunzel’s Prince; Ryan Blanchfield as the Wolf; Brandon Lambie (Baton Rouge) as the Steward; Kaylin Guillory (Abita Springs) as Snow White; and Ariel George (Baton Rouge) as Sleeping Beauty.
Music major Jeremy Guillot of Denham Springs will serve as stage manager, while theatre major Caleb Theriot of Springfield will serve as assistant stage manager. Biology major Kaelen Novak of Slidell will design the wigs and makeup.
Effler will serve as musical director and conductor, Department of Fine Arts + Design faculty member Emily Billington will design the costumes, Department of Music and Performing Arts staff member Benjamin Norman will design the lighting, and faculty member Kay Schepker will be heard in voice overs as the giant’s wife. The sets will be provided by the New Orleans Opera Association.
Advance tickets are available at the Columbia Theatre box office Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will also be available beginning one hour prior to each performance. Ticket prices are $21 for adults; $16 for seniors, Southeastern faculty/staff and non-Southeastern students and $8 for children twelve and younger. Southeastern students are admitted free of charge with their university ID.
For more information, contact Effler at email@example.com.
“Into the Woods,” has music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine, originally directed on Broadway by James Lapine, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, and original Broadway production by Heidei Landesman, Rocco Landesman, Rick Steiner, M. Anthony Fisher, Federeic H. Mayerson, Jujamcyn Theatres. Originally produced by the Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, Calif., “Into the Woods” is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI), and all authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.MTIShows.com.