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Fractured fairy tales: NLA shows 'Into The Woods'


What happens after "happily ever after?"

If you're Cinderella, your husband Prince Charming has an affair. If your name is Jack, you're being stalked by the widow of that giant you killed when you cut down the beanstalk.

For their fall musical, the student theater at New Life Academy venture "Into the Woods," Stephen Sondheim's darkly funny retelling of several classic fairy tales. Act I follows the familiar stories of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Jack the Giant Killer as they pursue their destiny and triumph over their evil antagonists. Act II is when the reality police show up, and each character learns that it's not necessarily a good thing to have their wish granted.

"In almost all of the cases in the play the characters start off wishing for something but it kind of backfires on them in a way," said Abby Nuehring of Woodbury, who plays Cinderella.

That includes the woman with the glass slipper.

"Cinderella deals with a lot of internal struggle," Nuehring said. "Her prince cheats on her and she's torn between living a royal life and a peasant's life. She's a klutz. She's always falling."

The action revolves around a childless baker and his wife, who desperately want to have a child and to free themselves from the curse of a witch (Olivia Thomas). Their journey brings them into contact with Rapunzel and the rest.

"By the end they're joined together for a common cause," Nuehring said.

Senior Thomas Voelker admits that it's a challenge to tackle a sophisticated Sondheim work.

"It's a very complex score," said Voelker, who plays the baker. "It's a little more complicated than we're used to but I feel our cast has handled it very well."

That's probably due in no small part to new drama director Jannette Bach. Prior to joining the staff at New Life Academy, she majored in theatre arts at North Central University with an emphasis on children's theater directing.

"The play does not usually call for an ensemble but our director has made it bigger," Voelker said. "Some of them attend the ball, some are villagers or wolf cubs."

Some of the more memorable songs in the show include "On the Steps of the Palace," which is sung by Cinderella, and two renditions of "Agony" each sung by a different prince (Noah Frazier and Cole Schulte). The Wolf (Wyatt Martinson) sings "Hello, Little Girl" to Little Red Riding Hood (Tina Motalebi).

Voelker's favorite song is one he sings called "No More."

"It's just a really fun song to sing," he said. "It's really fun to see how my character expresses his emotions in the song. I am more suited to acting but I think being in the play and plays previously has made my voice a lot better."

If you go

"Into the Woods" runs 7 p.m. Nov. 4-5 and Nov. 11-12 and 2 p.m. Nov. 6 and Nov. 13. Admission for 7 p.m. shows is $15 adults and $10 students and seniors. Admission for the 2 p.m. matinee is $15 adults and $5 students and senior citizens.

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William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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