'Into the Woods' opens Nov. 15 in Richland

Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldNovember 13, 2013 

Into the Woods

Cast members of the Mid-Columbia Musical Theater's production of Into the Woods from left, Megan Johnson, Molly Holleran, Elsie Reel-Fryhling, Erin Dickey and Geoff Elliot.

RICHARD DICKIN — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

The Brothers Grimm wrote fairy tales as dark as they were light and airy. But they never wrote musicals.

Then Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine got together and came up with a musical story that blended a bundle of Grimm fairy tales together.

It's called Into the Woods, and it stars Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, and a ton of others.

The Mid-Columbia Musical Theatre group will present Into the Woods starting Nov. 15 in the auditorium at Richland High School.

"Into the Woods is a chance to see all those characters we thought we knew in a whole new light," said director John Tuttle. "It's simply a crazy mashup of a bunch of our favorite Brothers Grimm fairy tales."

Tuttle adds that this musical gives the audience a more direct telling of these stories.

"But you also get to see the different characters interact with each other as each goes into the woods on their individual journeys," Tuttle said.

Justin Raffa, the musical director, rates the storyline as family friendly, but cautions parents with sensitive children that some of the characters don't survive their jaunts into the woods.

"Stephen Sondheim is known for writing advanced, challenging musical scores," Raffa said. "Although his melodies are tuneful and enjoyable to listen to, they are disguised in difficulty because of rhythmic complexities, sudden meter changes and orchestral accompaniment that does not always directly support the singer."

The production features 23 key roles portrayed by Tri-City actors and a 15-piece orchestra. The show is narrated by Steve Montgomery. His role introduces four characters who each have a wish. Cinderella, played by Molly Holleran, wants to attend the king's festival. Jack, played by Robert Hanson, wishes his cow would give milk. The Baker, played by Ted Miller, and his wife, played by Elise Reel-Fryhling, are desperate to have a child. And Little Red Riding Hood, played by Erin Dickey, wishes to buy bread to take to her grandmother's house.

The story is tied together through the baker and his wife and their quest to start a family after an evil witch, played by Megan Johnson, has cursed the family because the baker's father stole beans from her garden years before.

Each new character that is introduced is somehow musically linked to the baker and his wife's infertility and the witch.

"Many of the song tempos are quite fast and chock full of words, so the actors have had to work extra hard to master memorizing tons of lyrics," Raffa said.

Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15-16 and 22-23 with a 2 p.m. matinee Nov. 24.

Tickets cost $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $10 for students. On opening night, student tickets cost $5. Tickets are available at rloc.tix.com, at the Tri-Cities Academy of Ballet in Richland or at the door.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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