2007-11-08 / Front Page

Go 'Into the Woods' tomorrow night

By Sam Bari

The cast of "Into the Woods," is ready to entertain everyone this weekend. Photo by Sam Bari The cast of "Into the Woods," is ready to entertain everyone this weekend. Photo by Sam Bari What do you get when you take the best characters from Grimm's fairy tales and put them into the same woods to co-exist? If you're Stephen Sondheim you take a book on the subject written by James Lapine and turn it into a hit Broadway musical.

If you are veteran Jamestown director Julie Andrews, you hire your daughter as choreographer, Walter Sage as musical director, Lisa Brown and Iris Bohensky as producers, and turn Sondheim's music and lyrics into one of the finest productions the Jamestown Community Theater has ever staged.

Talk about more for your entertainment dollar - how can anyone go wrong with a play that includes Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, two princes, a wolf, a witch, Rapunzel, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, as well as Hansel and Gretel, Pinocchio, dwarves, a troop of dancing princesses, and even a giant?

They will make you laugh till your sides hurt, cry your eyes out - and they will touch your heart. According to Director Julie Andrews, the play is "a model for society. The characters from all these fairy tales live together in the same woods and are made to suffer the consequences of each other's behavior. It is bright, exciting, poignant, and even dark at times," she said.

Elizabeth Andrews, center, plays the forest witch in this musical number from "Into the Woods." Photo by Sam Bari Elizabeth Andrews, center, plays the forest witch in this musical number from "Into the Woods." Photo by Sam Bari According to veteran Jamestown actor Michael Liebhauser who plays Jack, of beanstalk fame, "The performance of this cast is excellent. The music is challenging, and the play is complex. The costumes, lighting and sets are special, and the effects and technical aspects are extraordinary," he said.

"There's a little bit of all of us in the characters," said Matt Bolles, who plays the baker in the Sondheim play. "There is definitely something for everyone. I encourage everybody to come. It is a very good production."

The play is destined to be one of the JCT's best. With Kathleen Brown narrating. Hannah Cordes as Cinderella. Natalie Toland as Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack Kerr as both wolf and Cinderella's prince, and Michael Liebhauser as Jack, Elizabeth Andrews as the wicked witch, Camille Baker as Rapunzel, Tiffany Wolfe as Snow White, and Alexandra Brown as Sleeping Beauty, the production promises to fulfill all expectations and then some. The entire cast, comprised of 17 children and 18 adults, sings, dances, and delivers their lines with all the conviction needed to turn any audience into believers.

The dress rehearsal said it all. The play is charming, exciting, dramatic, and profound. The magical performance will tug at your heartstrings and make you think.

Opening night is extra special for Director Julie Andrews and her daughter Elizabeth, who is the choreographer for the play. Opening night is Elizabeth's twentyfirst birthday, and the first time mother and daughter have worked together on the production side of the stage, although Elizabeth plays the part of the witch as well in the JCT production.

"I've worked for my mom as an actor and a dancer, but we've never before worked together on the production side, and it's been a wonderful experience - lots of fun," Elizabeth said.

She came by her many talents honestly. Elizabeth's mom is a teacher at Roger Williams University and Salve Regina University in the music departments. She was artistic director for Opera Providence's production of "Opera2Broadway" at the Providence Performing Arts Center. She directed "Red, Hot and Cole" for the Main Stage Series at Roger Williams in 2005, and is the recipient of the Boris Goldovsky Fellowship for Opera Direction from the National Opera Association. Andrews holds a master's degree in vocal performance and pedagogy.

At the young age of 21, daughter Elizabeth has some formidable credits of her own. She is the winner of the Jamestown Community Theatre Scholarship Award, attended The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London for Shakespeare Certification, and studied in New York at the Ward Studio to learn the Meisner Technique. She also studied dance at Island Moving Company at the Prout School, and studied modern theatre and improvisational techniques at De- Paul University in Chicago. She attended and was certified by the New York Film Academy, and is also a certified yoga instructor.

"Into the Woods" promises to give audiences more than they ever expected from any community theater. The JCT production opens Friday, Nov. 9, with a 7 p.m. curtain, and other performances will be Nov. 10, 16 and 17 at 7 p.m., and Nov. 11 and 18 at 5 p.m. Tickets are available on the island at Baker's Pharmacy, Conanicut Marine Ship's Store and the Secret Garden. Don't miss out. "Into the Woods" shows the Jamestown Community Theater at its entertaining best.

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