October 3, 2003
Fairy tales come to life in Cowley's fall musical
Where can you find Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White all on the same stage?
The Robert Brown Theatre, of course, during Cowley County Community College’s fall musical “Into the Woods.” The musical will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16-18.
General admission tickets are $7 for all ages and are on sale now at the Cowley Box Office, located just inside the east doors of the Brown Center for Arts, Sciences and Technology on the main campus in Arkansas City. The Cowley Box Office is open from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
A dinner will be served at 6:15 p.m. prior to the Oct. 17 and 18 shows in the Earle N. Wright Community Room and Gallery. Dinner and show tickets are $15 each and must be purchased before noon Oct. 10.
“Into the Woods” blends various familiar fairy tales with an original story of a childless Baker and his Wife, who catalyze the action of the story by attempting to reverse a curse on their family in order to have a child.
Deborah Layton, Humanities instructor and theatre director at Cowley, said she’s seen the show performed a couple of times, and it’s her all-time favorite musical.
“When I walked away, I was enlightened,” Layton said. “The music is phenomenal. And it’s such a beautiful story. (Stephen) Sondheim is a master at creating shows.”
The fun, fast-paced action on stage also engages audiences, Layton said.
“We’re creating a fantasy world on stage,” she said. “It’s a very different set, one that the audience has never seen before.”
Scott MacLaughlin, Cowley’s director of technical theatre, credited Cowley alumnus James Outhet with putting the set design together.
“James designed the set,” MacLaughlin said. “He just wanted to give something back to Cowley. I’m very proud of this set. We’ve made 100 percent of the set and props.”
Outhet works for Music Theatre of Wichita.
In the first act, the characters set out to achieve their goal of living “Happily Ever After” through familiar routes: Cinderella goes to the Ball and captures the heart of Prince Charming, Jack climbs the Beanstalk and finds a land of Giants and Gold, Little Red Riding Hood survives her clash with the wolf at Grandma’s house, and Rapunzel manages to escape her tower with the aid of a handsome prince who climbs her long hair.
The Baker and his Wife move through their stories while pursuing their own goal—the Witch, who keeps Rapunzel (revealed to be the Baker’s sister), has put the curse on his house, and agrees to lift it if the Baker and his Wife can find the ingredients to help her reverse a spell which her mother has laid on her, keeping her old and ugly.
Those ingredients are: A Slipper As Pure As Gold, which the Baker’s wife gets from Cinderella, A Cow As White As Milk, which the Baker buys from Jack in exchange for the fateful magic beans, A Cape As Red As Blood, which the Baker gets from Little Red Riding Hood in exchange for freeing her and Granny from the Wolf, and Hair As Yellow As Corn, which they get from Rapunzel. The ingredients are gathered, and the spell works, stripping the Witch of her power, but restoring her beauty. At the end of Act I, all characters seem poised to live “Happily Ever After.”
Act Two, however, deals with the consequences that traditional fairy tales conveniently ignore. What does one do with a dead Giant in the back yard? Does marrying a Prince really lead to a happy and fulfilling life? Is carving up the wolf the solution? Is the Giant always wrong? In Act Two, all the characters must deal with what happens AFTER “Happily Ever After.” As they face a genuine threat to their community, they realize that all actions have consequences, and their lives are inescapably interdependent, but also that that interdependence is their greatest strength.
The original Broadway production was Nov. 5, 1987, and it ran for 764 performances in the Martin Beck Theatre. Bernadette Peters was probably the best-known actress in the original musical. She played the Witch.
Layton said the production is one of the stiffest challenges attempted by Cowley’s theatre department in recent memory.
“It’s a challenge for all of us,” Layton said. “Directors and the students. It’s a very difficult piece musically. But we have students with a wide range of experience, some with no background in theatre and some with a lot.”
The cast is comprised of 22 women and men, who were asked to audition a bit differently from past shows.
“We had the individuals sing a small part, put themselves in scenes, then improvise for us,” Layton said. “We asked them to create a scene such as Little Red Riding Hood and Miss Muffett meeting for the first time. It let us see their creative side.”
Layton said the musical was chosen for its story line and plot.
“It doesn’t get done a lot because of the level of difficulty,” she said. “It’s so complex.”
Layton said she was excited about the show, adding that audiences would be pleased.
“There aren’t any breaks on stage with this musical, such as no places where the stage is dark, so it really flows from beginning to end,” Layton said. “The audience is in for an amazing evening.”
Narrator—Brandon Bratcher, Buffalo (Altoona-Midway High School)
The Baker—Chad Wyckoff, Arkansas City.
The Baker’s Wife—Meghann Parman, Arkansas City.
The Witch—Ashleigh Videgar, Arkansas City.
The Mysterious Man—Brandon Birmingham, Arkansas City (Belle Plaine High School).
Little Red Riding Hood—Whitney Jones, Arkansas City.
The Wolf—Devin Woods, Manhattan.
Granny/The Giant—Elizabeth Woods, Wichita (South High School).
Jack—Lance Fry, Arkansas City.
Jack’s Mother—Marlys Cervantes, Ponca City.
Cinderella—Shayla Swanson, Winfield.
Cinderella’s Prince—Mark Gubichuk, Arkansas City.
Stepmother—Tiffanie Spencer, South Haven.
Florinda—Josi Jones, Winfield.
Lucinda—Crystal Seal, Douglass.
Cinderella’s Father—Jonathan Paxson, Argonia.
Cinderella’s Mother—Whitney Smith, Mulvane.
The Steward—Blake Chamberlain, Conway Springs.
Rapunzel—Anne Brown, Udall.
Rapunzel’s Prince—Andrew Penrose, Arkansas City.
Sleeping Beauty—Jennifer Faust, Wichita (Heights High School).
Snow White—Callista Harbin, Arkansas City (Argonia High School).
Stage Manager—Jennifer Faust, Wichita (Heights High School).