By Rauel LaBreche
Sauk Prairie Theatre Guild is producing one of Stephen Sondheim’s most successful works July 12-15 at the River Arts Center in Prairie du Sac: the 1988 Tony Award-winning “Into the Woods.” With book and original stage direction by James Lapine, “Into the Woods” was the second of two collaborations between these two men and to date is one of the most often produced works in the Sondheim library.
Set in a world of fractured fairytales, “Into the Woods” follows a Baker and his Wife as they seek to gather items for the “witch next door” so that they can remove a curse on their household, which is preventing them from having a child. To dispel the curse, they need to acquire “A Cape as Red as Blood, A Cow as White as Milk, A Slipper as Pure as Gold, and Hair as Yellow as Corn.” Those four items bring them into the worlds of Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella and Rapunzel. But by gathering those items, they also help set into motion a chain of events that have serious repercussions.
The first act is filled with some of Sondheim’s best and most clever lyrics including the Little Red’s Wolf singing “Hello Little Girl”; Cinderella’s and Rapunzel’s Princes singing a hilarious duet called “Agony” (where they constantly try to “one up” each other on the Heartache Scale); and Cinderella singing of her woes caused by continually trying to avoid being cornered into wedding the Prince in “On the Steps of the Palace.”
The second act finds everyone living “happily ever after,” sort of. The Princes are finding that there are other beauties in the woods that need pursuing; Jack’s chopping down of the Bean Stalk has caused the Giant’s wife to come looking for her husband’s killer. Through the quest to solve the Giant problem, most of storybook characters are brought together again to solve the problem by cooperating with one another. This act holds some of Sondheim’s most masterful melodies including “No More” and “Children Will Listen.”
As anyone who has seen or performed “Into the Woods” will tell you, it demands the highest level of performance skills from cast members. The music is both complex lyrically and filled with intricate rhythms that are both exhilarating and inspirational. Sauk Prairie Theatre Guild has assembled a cast, crew and production team that is equal to the challenge. Numerous cast members like Sauk Prairie favorites Matt Brennan and Lindsey Geise, as well as recent Sauk Prairie High School grads Rachel Barsness and Jack Porubsky, and not-so-recent grads Jacob Frey and Josiah LaBreche, will provide masterful entertainment. Plus add a wide range of highly skilled actors and actresses from around our area including Meg Aspinwall, Heidi Boaz, Natalie Davies, Arista Detter, Julienna Hagan, Jeni Hanko, Marita Kelter, Brandon Krueger, Chris and Marcus Larson, Patrice Luer, Teyanna Marx Loether, Jenna McCann, Adam McKinney, Ian Michel, Kayln Schmit and Nikki Weigel.
Rauel LaBreche is the director of this month’s Sauk Prairie Theatre Guild production in collaboration with Music Director Meg Aspinwall and Orchestra Director David Miotke. A talented orchestra of 19 area musicians will fill out the ensemble. Tickets are on sale now at the River Arts on Water Gallery at 590 Water St. in Prairie du Sac, by calling the gallery at (608) 643-5215, or online at sptheatreguild.org.