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LMC goes Into the Woods

Article Published: Sep. 30, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
LMC goes Into the Woods

Lees-McRae students Holly Knowles and Jarrett Koski star in Into the Woods, running Oct. 1-5 at Hayes Auditorium in Banner Elk.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero

For Lees-McRae College artistic director Janet Speer, Into the Woods is a musical 17 years in the making.

Having directed the musical comedy in 1993, Speer's always wanted to do so again, but bided her time until its stars were in alignment.

"You don't do the show until you have the cast to do it," Speer said. "We didn't choose this (production) until we had a student body that could do it. We had that this year."

A musical retelling of classic fairy tales, including Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, Into the Woods features music and lyrics from Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim - a complex score that's not your typical stroll in the woods.
And it's no easy trip for the characters, either.

"It's an allegorical tale," Speer said. "It takes characters like Little Red Riding Hood, the Wolf, Cinderella and Rapunzel and puts them all together to tell a happy story ... but also what happens when you go into the woods."

The woods represent life, Speer explained, and the decision one makes while there can affect the outcome for better or worse. And, for some of the characters, there really is no "happily ever after."
This becomes evident in the second act.

"(The first act) ends with Cinderella and Rapunzel getting married to their wonderful princes," Speer said. "But in the second act, that all changes. The princes are all philanderers, Cinderella must learn to cope, and a giant invades the land."

And, go figure, said invader is the wife of the giant whose beanstalk Jack handily toppled.

"The show is very funny," Speer said. "The audience will be really entertained, but for those willing to go with us into the second act, that's where it gets philosophical. They'll learn something about themselves and mankind."

The same applies to Into the Woods' cast, comprised of a diverse set of Lees-McRae student actors, ranging from freshmen to seniors. In order to prepare them for some of the musical's philosophical aspects, Speer took them off the stage and into the woods.

"I live deep in the woods, and I took the kids out to my house, separated them and said they had to go find themselves," she said. "They really enjoyed it ... and the pizza afterwards, and somehow, they all came back with walking sticks. But they were learning not just about the characters, but themselves. They're extraordinarily fun to work with."

And the same goes for crew, including technical director and set and lighting designer Danielle Baisden Curtis, costume designer Tessa Carr, music director James Taylor and stage manager Laurel Wilde.

"They're all so talented," Speer said, calling their work a feast for the senses.

Cast members include Marisa Karoutsos as Cinderella, Drew Coston as Jack, Harrison Lee as the Baker, Osmary Nieves as the Baker's Wife, Tonya Patterson as Cinderella's Stepmother, Somber Johnson as Florinda, Randi Sowards as Lucinda, Saraea Adams as Jack's Mother, Holly Knowles as Little Red Riding Hood, Catie Moss as the Witch, John Brett as Cinderella's Father, Suzanne Snyder as Cinderella's Mother/Granny, Chris Nelson as the Mysterious Man, Jarrett Koski as the Wolf, Erin Montgomery as Rapunzel, James Shimo as Rapunzel's Prince, Richard Grebo as Cinderella's Prince, Wil Paonessa as the Steward, Daven VanHoy as the Giant's Voice, Shiloh Remsburg as Sleeping Beauty, Cassie Messer as Snow White and John Hayes as the Cow.

Into the Woods hits Lees-McRae's Hayes Auditorium, located on Main Street in downtown Banner Elk, on Oct. 1, 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 2 and 3 at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $12 for adults and $5 for students and children, and are available at the door one hour prior to show time.

For more information, visit or call the box office at (828) 898-8709.

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