Volume 9 Week 3

Tuesday, Dec. 309


Updated March 18

Updated June 12

Orléans Ward
Bob Monette




(Posted 2:30 p.m., Apr. 21)

St. Peter Players produce another magical musical
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The St. Peter Players present the Stephen Sondheim play 'Into the Woods' all this week at St. Peter High School on Charlemagne Blvd. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Following in the footsteps of such classics as "West Side Story" and last year's amazing "Les Misérables", the 2005 version of the St. Peter Players took to the stage Wednesday night to tackle Stephen Sondheim's Tony Award winning play "Into the Woods".

"Into the Woods" is a wonderful amalgam of such fairy tale classics as Cinderella, Jack in the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel which answers the question what happens AFTER happily ever after?

In the opening scene we're introduced to the main characters including the baker and his wife and the witch who long ago placed a curse on their house that the baker would never have children. To reverse the curse the couple has to find a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn and a slipper as pure as gold.

During the rest of the first act, our hero the baker enters the woods to seek out each item with the help of his wife. They get the cow as white as milk from Jack in exchange for a handful of magical beans. The cape is given to the baker by Little Red Riding Hood after he frees her and her grandmother from the stomach of the big, bad wolf. The baker's wife grabs a lock of golden hair from Rapunzel (who is revealed to be the baker's sister) and she manages to get the golden slipper from Cinderella.

When they bring all four items to the witch, she makes them feed a piece of the cape, the golden slipper and the lock of hair to the cow. When the cow fails to produce any milk, they feed her the hair from an ear of corn which does the trick. The witch then drinks a cup of the milk which restores her youthful looks.

The first act ends with one of the princes marrying Cinderella; Jack, having killed the Giant gets to keep the Golden Harp; Rapunzel having been banished to a desert by the witch (who we learn is her mother) finds her prince; and the baker's wife is pregnant with their first child.

Everything was so neatly tied up in a big bow that it was easy to think that the play was over. In fact, it is only the beginning. In Act 2, the village is set upon by the giant's widow who is determined to avenge her husband's death.

After several of the characters come to an unfortunate end, the baker, Cinderella, Little Red and Jack conspire to slay the giantess after which they all move in together.

While the play and the performances are tremendously entertaining, problems with the wireless mikes during the first half were distracting to the point of being annoying. That said, any comment about the sound must be taken in the context that the cafetorium at St. Peter High School is not the ideal location for a musical production and the job of outfitting a large cast with wireless microphones is extremely difficult.

Thankfully, the problems with the microphones were completely eliminated by the second half of the show which musically was much stronger.

First act highlights include the witty Agony performed by the two princes played by Jordan Rouliff and Mike Molinsky and Stay With Me in which the witch, played by Kate Heney, pleads for Rapunzel not to runaway with her prince after she's been freed from the tower.

While Heney's performance as the mean old witch was brilliant in the first act, it was positively spellbinding in Act 2, especially her solo performances of Lament, when Rapunzel is killed by the giantess and Last Midnight.

It was wonderful to see Heney take centre stage after playing Madame Thenardier in last year's production of Les Mis. Aside from her obvious ability as an actress, she is an incredibly talented singer who will hopefully pursue other projects after she leaves St. Pete's.

As for the other performances, Wade Muir's solo rendition of "No More Baker" in Act 2 was amazing. Kudos also to Megan Peloso as Cinderella and Michelle Redmond who plays the baker's wife. Both young women turned in memorable performances. Redmond's talent as an actress really came through in her scene with Cinderella's prince in Act 2 and in an early scene when she convinces Jack to trade his cow for the beans.

Perhaps the surprise of the evening was the performance turned in by St. Peter Players newcomer Erin Lang as Little Red Riding Hood. For a first timer she had a tremendous stage presence and her ability to seamlessly switch from the perky Little Red we've come to know in the politically correct version of the fairy tale to the mildly psychotic, knife wielding Little Red Riding Hood Sondheim created was a wonder to behold.

One of the funniest scenes in the play comes when the Baker cuts open the wolf to free Little Red and her grandmother. Once they're freed, granny wants to chop the wolf into a hundred pieces, or better yet, fill his stomach with rocks and watch him try to run away.

Into the Woods is filled with a number of humourous moments and the casts' comedic timing is truly impressive, especially when you consider their relative lack of experience.

The principal players are rounded out by Lukasz Lukaszek as Jack and Dylan Ryan who does double duty as the Narrator and the Mysterious Man.

The individual performances strong throughout, but it is during the ensemble numbers that the entire cast is allowed to shine, especially in the closing number. The supporting cast members are Christina Embleton as Rapunzel; Katrina Waters as Jack's mother; Mike Doiron as Cinderella's father; Juliana Siok as Cinderella's mother; Tori Ellis as Cinderella's step.m.other; Hannah Schaltz and Katie Pearce who are both hilarious as Cinderella's ugly stepsisters; Marley Cameron as Granny; Shane Houlston as the tap dancing wolf; Jason Dinardo as the steward and Czeska Dumali as the giant.

The cast is made up of 20 members which doesn’t include the all-volunteer orchestra led by Lisa MacLean, or the production and stage crews led by producer Carla Boyle, and the driving force behind the St. Peter Players – Bernie Leger.

All in all, "Into the Woods" is another strong production in a long line of memorable performances and is well worth the $10 price of admission.

If you've never experienced live theatre before, make "Into the Woods" your first. You won't be disappointed and you can feel good about the fact that your presence will provide a measure of positive reinforcement to a group of students who for the past four months, have poured their blood, sweat and tears into something they do for the pure enjoyment of it.

"Into the Woods" continues tonight, tomorrow night and Saturday night. Curtain time all three nights is 7 p.m.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)


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