It’s not often that high-school theater tackles Stephen Sondheim, the iconic American composer and lyricist, but Rye Neck High will perform his Tony Award-winning musical “Into The Woods” February 25-27.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
It’s not often that high-school theater tackles Stephen Sondheim, the iconic American composer and lyricist, but Rye Neck High will perform his Tony Award-winning musical “Into The Woods” February 25-27. The curtain goes up at 7 each night and on Saturday, there will also be a two o’clock matinee for families with young children that will feature a happily-ever-after version with the cast making an appearance in the lobby afterwards.
Boasting an array of familiar fairy tale characters, “Into the Woods” intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault tales, from “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Jack and the Beanstalk” to “Cinderella” and “Rapunzel.”
“The play is a mash up of all the fairy tales we read as kids,” explained Director Scott Harris. “There’s a lot of humor in Act One before the play takes a dark turn in Act Two. The actors have to be absolutely believable, so the audience will go along.”
During auditions, Harris cast students with both acting chops and great voices. He found them among what he calls “Rye Neck’s deep talent bench.” Whereas last year’s “Music Man” required a lot of dancing, “Into the Woods” is “a singer’s musical by the greatest living composer, the top of the top shelf,” said Harris, “It also deals with adult themes.”
As a result, students have spent more time on vocals during rehearsals. The director is pleased about how they have mastered the play’s intricate songs, as in the acrobatic number “Your Fault,” sung by Justin Sturgis as Jack, Jazzy Cores as Cinderella, Hunter Greenhill as the Baker, Bria McClain as Little Red Riding Hood, and Lauren Richman as the Witch.
In addition to the production’s complex material and musicality, another demanding aspect has been creating the magic, literally. Come opening night, the audience can expect theatrical fog on stage, the wizardry of a witch’s cane lighting up, the appearance of a giant, and a few other surprises. It’s taking a stage crew of 70 students and a cast of 43, along with Harris, Music Director Michael Mastroianni, Choreographer Jesse Pellegrino, and Costume Manager Karen Fontechcio, to make the forest come to life.
Crewmembers include Stage Manager Jillian Hurlbut, Technical Director Eddie Cohen, and Assistant Stage Managers Michael Quartararo and Matt Ponticiello.
“Our goal is to expose the students to different types of theater and musicals, and they are all definitely rising to the challenge,” noted Harris.
Tickets are available online. Visit Rye Neck’s new website dedicated to the high school’s performing arts program, www.ryenecktheatre.weebly.com.