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Family ties run 'Into the Woods' at East Ridge

Brothers Dante, Shane and Michael Miller are all working together on East Ridge High School’s production of “Into the Woods,” which opens on Nov. 7. However, the three brothers are at home in three different areas – Michael in acting, Shane in technical and Dante in orchestra. (Staff photo by Amber Kispert-Smith)1 / 2
East Ridge’s production of “Into the Woods” will have a unique look and feel since the school will be giving the play a “steampunk” treatment. Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. (Submitted photo) 2 / 2

It’s no secret that brothers share a special bond, but three brothers at East Ridge High School share an even deeper bond – theater.

Michael, Dante and Shane Miller are all three involved in East Ridge’s fall musical “Into the Woods.”

Each brother, however, finds passion in a different area – Michael, a sophomore, is in the cast, Dante, a sophomore, is in the pit orchestra and Shane, a senior, is part of the technical crew.

“It brings us closer as a family,” Michael said, “because we’re doing something that we all enjoy.”

East Ridge’s production of “Into the Woods” opens Friday at the Loft Stage.

Into the Woods

 “Into the Woods,” written by Stephen Sondheim, combines the well-known fairy tales of “Cinderella,” “Rapunzel,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and “Little Red Riding Hood” with the story of the baker and his wife who desperately want a child.

“The first act ends with the ‘happily ever after’ and then the second act is that moment when you realize that life isn’t a ‘happily ever after,” East Ridge theater director Amanda Hestwood said. “There are things that are thrown at you and there are challenges to be faced.

“It’s an adult look at fairy tales in a lot of ways and those things that can go wrong in life.”

East Ridge’s production of “Into the Woods” will have a unique look and feel since the school will be giving the play a “steampunk” treatment.

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century.

Hestwood said the theater decided to use steampunk for “Into the Woods” because it provides a new element to a repeatedly performed show.

“Oftentimes it has one look and since it’s so challenging to do, I wanted to do something different with it,” she said.

The theme will be incorporated through costuming and sets, which will feature steam pipes instead of the traditional enchanted forest.

“The industrial era and the transition from romanticism to realism is also reflective of the transition that you see between act one and act two,” Hestwood said.

All in the family

Hestwood said having the three Miller brothers involved in the fall production has been a unique experience and speaks to what the East Ridge theater program is about.

“We really pride ourselves on having a comprehensive theater program,” she said. “So, to have three kids in a different element of a production is really cool.”

The Miller brothers said being involved in theater together has helped them make friends with different types of students as well as the ability to bounce ideas off of each other.

“We each have our own different idea for the play and we share with each other,” Michael said. “It’s interesting to see what’s going on in the other groups.”

Additionally, the Miller brothers said working together has helped them develop a greater appreciation for the other aspects of theater.

“Everyone has their own job,” Shane said, “but you all come together to make a great show.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing how the acting, lighting and music all come together,” Dante said.

East Ridge High School‘s production of “Into the Woods” will run Nov. 7-8 and Nov. 14-15 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 9 and 16 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. The opening night gala, which is $10, will be Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. and feature live music, food and Walt Disney Studios will be present to promote its “Into the Woods” film. Visit www.theloftstage.com for more information.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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