INA, Ill. (March 20, 2013) - Rend Lake College’s Spring Musical “Into the Woods” opens Thursday night. Tickets are still available for only $12. Call 618-437-5321, Ext. 1467. This musical, written by the award-winning team of James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim, and directed for RLC by Sara Alstat, is sure to entertain audiences with great singing and acting from local talent.
The shows are at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 24. Alstat warned that the second act of this show has elements that could upset children too young to tell reality from acting. She said act one is less intense. The show will run about two hours and 30 minutes.
“Into the Woods” follows a squad of fairy tale characters, exploring the consequences of their wishes and motivations. The main characters are taken from "Little Red Riding Hood," "Jack and the Beanstalk," "Rapunzel," and "Cinderella," as well as several others. It’s all tied together by the story of the Baker and his wife, their journey starting a family, and a Witch’s curse on them.
Cast members are young adults from all over the area. Some are students at RLC and others, like Kristin Doty, come from the community. Doty, a high school student from Herrin, is playing one of the lead roles, the Witch.
“These are just really great people to work with,” she said of her fellow cast members. “They are great actors and singers and are really accepting. Immediately, I felt like I was part of the group. It’s been a good experience on stage.”
Doty, although only 17 years old, has been acting for awhile now. She says it is what she wants to do for a career. She has been in different shows with different plots, but she says she prefers a deeper, darker script like “Into the Woods” and is having a terrific time playing the Witch.
“I’m really looking forward to the show. It has been a wonderful experience.”
Emily Wells is playing Cinderella. She is originally from California and now lives in Sesser.
“There are certain things in this show that you actually have to try and avoid,” Wells said. “You have to avoid the normal, campy, musical theatre. The characters in this show have depth. They are real people. They have real wishes and objectives. In this show, I play Cinderella and she never really gets her wish. Each character has their wish. Just like in real life, you get something and you grow content with it. I think that this show and its characters have more depth than in previous shows I’ve been in. It’s more than just surface plot.”
Alstat called on her best friend, Johnny Gallagher, to help her actors bring Sondheim’s characters to life. Gallagher is a professional actor, director and educator living in Pittsburgh. He is an AEA candidate actor who has performed in regional theatres across the country. From Houston to Richmond to Boston, Gallagher has worked in shows such as “Cabaret “ (Cliff), “Company” (Bobby), “Ragtime” (Younger Brother), and “The Last Five Years” (Jamie). His experience from the director’s chair includes “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Into the Woods,” and “I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change.” He serves as a permanent director for the Gemini Theatre where he has directed “Ballroom,” “White Christmas” and “Seussical,” among others. He holds a Master of Arts in Education and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting, and is also the author of a novel, “Neverland,” which is currently in the process of being published.
Gallagher said he was thrilled to make the trip to Illinois and see how he could help his friend. It was an opportune time to visit, considering he teaches a class in interpreting the works of Sondheim at the College of Allegheny in Pittsburgh.
“Coming from an urban area, I was surprised by the amount of talent and dedication that southern Illinois had to offer,” he said after working with Alstat’s actors. “I think that this show is perfectly cast and each one of the student actors are so involved in their characters and want to do the best job possible. Sondheim is very tricky to pull off. He doesn’t just write characters, he creates fully realized three-dimensional people that hopefully stay with the audience long after they’ve seen one of his shows. There are so many nuances and so much symbolism within his shows. Every line has a double meaning. To see this young cast work through this and get to the crux of what they believe their character’s journey is was a fine process to watch and I am really honored to have been a part of it.”
Wells said Gallagher and Alstat have helped her and the other actors interpret Sondheim’s songs, which Alstat said always have double meanings.
“Performing a Sondheim piece is completely different than performing in other types of shows,” Wells said. “Sondheim is a genius and he actually writes subtext within his song. The normal college student isn’t always going to get the subtext, the objective of a song.
“I think what Sara is doing is great and bringing Johnny in was a good idea,” Wells added. “I think he is really helping us learn that it doesn’t always have to be pretty. If you are going to cry in a song, go ahead and cry in a song, as long as it’s real. It’s acting.”
“Any time Johnny comes to visit, it’s amazing,” Alstat said. “But to come help me with my first spring musical is very special to me.”
The cast of “Into the Woods” are:
Sara Barnett (Benton) - Baker's Wife
Elecia Crider (Woodlawn) - Cinderella's Mother/Giant
Kristin Doty (Herrin) - Witch
Curtis Galloway (Benton) - Rapunzel's Prince
Randy Grider (Woodlawn) - Cinderella's Father
Gabriel Habtemariam (Mt. Vernon) - Baker
Sierra Harrell (Mt. Vernon) - Rapunzel
Emily Hoffman (Texico) - Sleeping Beauty
Veronica Justice (Mt. Vernon) - Little Red Riding Hood
Jay Meagher (Geff) - Cinderella's Prince
Levi Overturf (Mt. Vernon) - Wolf
Devin Riley (Salem) - Steward
Laura Saxton (West Frankfort) - Lucinda
Krystal Schuch (Newton) - Granny
Kathleen Sledge (Mt. Vernon) - Jack's Mother
Cale Smith (Mt. Vernon) - Narrator/Mysterious Man
Christine South (Enfield) - Florinda
Kenzey Stanley (Fairfield) - Cinderella's Stepmother
Troy Stickel (Benton) - Jack
Emily Wells (Sesser) - Cinderella
Angie Youroukos (Mt. Vernon) - Snow White