‘Into the Woods’ will dazzle with special effects, says director

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AUBURN — “Into the Woods” is coming to the Community Little Theatre stage and “It’s filled with lots of magical special effects.” 

That’s the way Vincent Ratsavong, director and choreographer, sums up the production. His description just begins to cover all the wonders awaiting the opening night audience on Friday, Aug. 7.
“Into the Woods” is the popular Stephen Sondheim musical with book by James Lapine. It combines several fairy tales with some distinctly dark twists. “Into the Woods” won several Tony Awards in its Broadway debut year of 1987 and it enjoyed a revival in 2002.
Ratsavong said CLT’s show will be the revival version, so it includes a few differences from the first local presentation in the 1998-99 season.
This production of “Into the Woods” will undertake some exceptional steps to bring the audience into the storybook world of the show. Ratsavong said the theatrical space extends around the audience in just about all ways possible. The actors will be entering from the sides and down the aisles from the lobby. The action will take place from trees and rocks, from ramps and ladders, and from other positions that give Ratsavong choreographic opportunities that he said “are like a giant jungle gym.”
The central theme is a quest for items that will reverse the curse that a once-beautiful witch (Kay Warren) placed on the Baker (Derrick Lacasse) and his wife (Katie St. Pierre), making them childless. As they venture to the woods, the baker and his wife meet Cinderella (Emily Flynn), Little Red Riding Hood (Rachel Grindle), Rapunzel (Megan Irene Malloy), and Jack of beanstalk fame (Jake Boyce). Renee Davis is Jack’s mother and Michelle Martin is Milky White the cow.
There are many more performers and crew members involved in this presentation of “Into the Woods.” Ratsavong said Jennifer Fox is doing an outstanding job with the complex costuming and make-up. The witch’s woodsy facial features, and her transformation, are among the special effects.
The use of puppetry is another new feature of the up-coming show. Ratsavong said the cow, Milky White, is now a full-body costume. There will also be puppet appearances of the Three Little Pigs and some birds.
After much trial and tribulation, the show’s fairy tale characters finally learn about the need for community and family. They must unite to fight the wife of the giant that Jack killed who has decided to come back for revenge.
Ratsavong said the time and place of the stories is meant to match the countries and centuries in which they are meant to be. Cinderella is placed in 17th century France, and Ratsavong said she will bear a resemblance to Marie Antoinette. Jack and his mother will be modeled on country people of old England, and there are scenes suggesting old Germany.
The passage of time before midnight is critical to the plot, and Ratsavong said a 12-foot moon, which is also a clock, will be a huge backdrop for the stage.
Sondheim’s music underwent several revisions and additions through the musical’s history. Among the numbers in this production will be “Giants in the Sky,” “Agony,” and “No One Is Alone.” A new number is Rapunzel’s “Our Little World.”
Rebecca Caron is music director, and there will be an orchestra of close to a dozen pieces.
“Into the Woods” was a 2014 Disney film with and all-star cast starring Meryl Streep as the witch. The witch’s part was played to great acclaim by Bernadette Peters in the 1987 production.
“Into the Woods” will be performed at 7:30 pm Friday and Saturday, Aug. 7-8, and Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Aug. 13-15, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays, Aug. 9 and 16.
For tickets, call the CLT box office at 783-0958 or go online to www.laclt.com.
The Great Falls Performing Arts Center is at 30 Academy St., Auburn.

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