Papillion-LaVista Community Theatre opened the Stephen Sondheim musical “Into the Woods” last weekend at the beautiful Sumtur Amphitheater.
The story is about fairy tale characters that come alive on stage. Director Suzanne Withem has a gigantic and very talented cast in this family fun musical. The show runs for two weekends. The last three performances of this award-winning musical will be performed this weekend.
Sondheim musicals are very complicated and a lot of work goes into the actors singing the songs and the musicians playing Sondheim music. One unique thing about Papillion-LaVista Community Theater productions is the large orchestras whose members are all volunteers. That is very unusual in community theaters in the area. There are 13 very talented musicians in the pit. One major difference with this orchestra is that they use bug spray while playing beautiful music. The conductor of the orchestra is Liz Stinman. She is also the show’s musical director.The orchestra sounds great and the singers are all very gifted.
The cast is a great collection of local theater talent. Narrator One is Sherry Josand Fletcher. She is very good and also plays Granny. Narrator Two is River Fisher, who also plays Cinderella’s mother. Narrator Three is Emma Johnson, who also plays The Harp character. The Harp costume is unique, the costumes for the production are a joint effort with Ibsen Costume Gallery and Bradley Pesarchick. Sara Warner plays Cinderella and Jack is played by Jackson Mikkelsen. Jack is the “Jack” who is from “Jack and the Beanstalk” fame. Milky White is a cow played very well by Robyn Helwig. The Baker is played by Brian Priessman, and his wife is played by Alissa Hanish. They are great as the couple who are the foundation for a lot of the stories involved in “Into the Woods.”
The entire story is about the baker and his wife who cant have children and get involved with all of these fairytale characters that are taken from “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Rapunzel” and “Cinderella.” The show has a wicked witch who puts a curse on the baker and his wife. There is always a wicked witch in fairytales. Jack’s mom is played by Meredith McAdams. Her character gets very frustrated with her son, who doesn’t always use good judgement. Like trading a sack of beans for his cow.
Little Red Riding Hood is a spunky character who is played very well by Hannah Rembert. She is so good and is fantastic when she is on stage. All fairytales have to have a prince. In “Into the Woods,” we have two fantastic princes. We have the prince from Cinderella, who is played by Scott Van Den Top and Rapunzel’s prince played by Aaron Lawrence. They are great and they sing a duet on a song which is my favorite from the show, “Agony.” That song is sung in the first act of the show and there is a reprise in the second act. The witch in the show is played by Katie Miller, who is good as she transforms from ugly and old to young and beautiful. It is a good transformation that is done well on stage as she comes out in a beautiful red gown.
Rapunzel who lives in a tower is played by Grace Heldridge. She has the long flowing blonde hair that goes with her character. The Steward is played by Patrick White. The Mysterious Man who comes out from beneath part of the set is Todd Brooks. He is very good. Snow White is played by Katy Eichorn and Sleeping Beauty is played by Audrey Saucier. Also in the large cast is Derek Bonin and Megan Smith.
This show has many good Sondheim songs including: “Hello Little Girl,” performed by Little Red Riding Hood, Little Red’s Wolf and Little Pigs Wolf; “I Know Things Now,” sung by Little Red Riding Hood”: “Giants in the Sky,” sung by Jack: “Stay With Me,” sung by the Witch and Rapunzel; and “It Takes Two” sung by the Baker and his wife. There are big production numbers with the whole company involved which include: “First Midnight” and “Second Midnight,” are the Act One and Act Two finales.
The show runs one more weekend at the Sumtur Amphitheater. Ticket prices are: $18 for VIP seating; $14 for reserved; and $10 for general admission. This is a great price to take the whole family to “ Into the Woods.” The show runs from 8 to 10:50 p.m. This is a great price to take the whole family to “Into the Woods.” If you are doing general admission seats, bring blankets or chairs because the seating is on the grass.
To reach the box office, call 402-597-2041 or go online to plvt.org. This is a quality production and is worth the trip to enjoy the Sumtur Amphitheater. Take Highway 370 West to 108th Street and turn left the theater is just a few blocks south past Papillion-LaVista South High School.