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Into the Woods
by Benicia High School's Panthers Productions
What do you get when you cross Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Stephen Sondheim and New York City? No, not a Halloween Costume Party in Chelsea. What you get is an exciting and memorable production of Stephen Sondheim’s Musical Into the Woods at Benicia High School.
Under the co-direction of Christine Mani and Kim
High School Panther Productions went an entirely new direction with the
twisted group of fairy tales that Sondheim and writing partner James Lapine
smashed together in their late 80’s Broadway musical. Rather than setting it in the ambiguous unnamed woods that
the play is normally set, Mani and Thompson decided to set the entire show in
New York City.
What? You ask. I know… I had the same response.
But you know what? This new spin brought out an entirely
new group of characters and highlighted different themes in the show.
At times, I found myself thinking about the next scene and wondering what
this production would do with it.
In the director’s notes Mani states that she’d been
waiting for years to produce this play because she knew how important that it
was to get the right group of players. And
the right group of players she had. Talent
oozed from every direction in the show, in an impressive display of commitment
This cast is anchored by two very strong performances by
Isaiah Boyd (The Baker) and his onstage wife Ella Pennington (The Baker’s
Wife) both of whom played their roles with a rare maturity and presence that is
often times hard to find. Boyd’s
handsome and masculine Baker was particularly moving in his duet with his
father, The Mysterious Man (Alejandro Medonza-Middleton), “No More”.
Pennington, on the other hand, carried her role with a kind of strength
that I have not seen since the role was originated by Tony Award Winning Actress
Joanna Gleason. The onstage
chemistry between these two fine, young actors was not only believable, but it
Thompson and Mani’s centerpiece to the concept rested in
the hands of her Little Red Riding Hood (Kayla Santos) who had an onstage
commitment that made her shine. CJ
Gormley’s Jack was a completely original take on the bright-eyed youngster
and, comically, far dryer than is usual (it was a very witty performance… of a
very dimwitted character). The
Narrator, which is normally played by a man, was played by Colleen McAdams.
Interestingly, McAdams picked up a number of Little Red’s lines in the opening
sequence, a device that the director used to ease the transition into the world
of wonder in Little Red’s head.
Rarely does an audience get to see a group of actor’s so committed to a performance and a director’s vision. The enthusiasm and energy of the cast was infectious and led to an evening of very entertaining theatre.
Matthew Teague Miller
Photography by Christine & Aristotle Mani
~ Cast ~
Girl’s Father: Alex Middleton
Narrator: Colleen McAdams
Cinderella: Tori McBride
Jack: C.J. Gormley
Jack’s Mother: Brandi Guisto
Baker: Isaiah Boyd
Baker’s Wife: Ella Pennington
Cinderella’s Stepmother: Alycia Brom
Florinda: Zoë Garfiinkel
Lucinda: Kyla Hamling
Cinderella’s Father: Kevin Throne
Witch: Gwenna McKee
Cinderella’s Mother: Ashley Wright
Mysterious Man: Alex Middleton
Wolf: Erik Quiroz
Rapunzel: Emily Garcia
Rapunzel’s Prince: Nick Bustamante
Cinderella’s Prince: Austin Carr
Steward: Synjyn Council
Giant: Ashley Wright
Snow White (& understudy): Camille Roybal
Sleeping Beauty (& understudy): Rachel Morgado
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