Free performances of Sondheim’s Into the Woods at SUNY-New Paltz

Photo of Nick Mannino as The Baker and Hannah Nesich as The Baker’s Wife by Darrian Amaker

The newly renovated Studley Theatre on the SUNY-New Paltz campus will be occupied by students practicing the art of enchantment, when the Miami Theatre Players perform the musical Into the Woods next week. The Tony Award-winning play, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, debuted in 1986 and has been produced on countless stages worldwide. Interweaving the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales, this version of the play is based in Bruno Bettelheim’s analysis of traditional fairy tales in Freudian terms. Certainly, the preponderance of abandonment, death, witches and general hardship in the stories Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Cinderella were not meant for mere entertainment when they were originally written. Children were perhaps expected to interpret them in what Bettelheim called symbolic terms.

Sondheim and Lapine took literary license by extrapolating on the consequences of certain characters’ wishes and quests, when many of them are tied together in a story involving a baker and his wife who wish to begin a family. The first act introduces the stories and characters everybody knows and loves, and the second act shows what happens after those stories end.

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“This is a play about people coming together for the community, and finding something in themselves that wasn’t possible alone,” said Blake McGready, a sophomore minoring in Theatre and directing for the first time. “I like to think we’re doing a similar sort of thing with the cast as a whole. This is as close a community group on campus as you can get. We’re all different majors, with different interests; it’s a very diverse, very community-oriented group.”

He’s referring to the theatre group once known as the Scudder Hall Players, originated by one-time student Alyssa Weiss from – you guessed it – Miami. Open to all SUNY-New Paltz students, the Miami Theatre Players do completely student-run musical productions free of charge, while emphasizing “personal growth and self-confidence through friendship and a fun environment.” Now partially funded by the University, the group’s members make props and costumes, build sets and share in all other production tasks, some even staying over during spring break to get the work done for the upcoming performance. Plus, they rehearse at least nine extracurricular hours a week.

The cast includes John Coen as the Narrator and the Mysterious Man, Nicole Bader as Cinderella, James Fischer as Jack, Linda Wessberg as Jack’s Mother, Nick Mannino as the Baker, Hannah Nesich as the Baker’s Wife, Taryn Westerfield as Cinderella’s Stepmother, Jessica Dammers as Florinda, Megan Brannan as Lucinda, Kevin Fagan as Cinderella’s Father, Tori Lewis as Little Red Riding Hood, Natasha Lende as the Witch, Sinead Atkinson as Cinderella’s Mother, Jay Figueredo as the Wolf and Rapunzel’s Prince, Sarah Gaines as Granny, Selena Foerste as Rapunzel, Mike Rinere as Cinderella’s Prince, Erica Eisenstadt as the Steward, Mary O’Rourke as Snow White and Emily Holub as Sleeping Beauty, with Erin Thomas and Tabitha Garnica as the Ensemble. Into the Woods is presented to the community at no charge on Wednesday and Thursday, April 4 and 5 at 7 p.m., and at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 6. Visit https://miamitheatreplayers.blogspot.com for more info.

 

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