July 24, 2009

Upcoming musical features high school students

by Vincent Rhomberg

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Everybody goes into the woods in the award-winning musical “Into the Woods,” opening July 30 at McLeod Summer Playhouse at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The musical is a collaborative effort between SIUC’s McLeod Theater Summer Playhouse and Carbondale Community Arts, and features a cast of area high school students. The high school summer play has become a summer playhouse tradition.

“Into the Woods” opened on Broadway in 1987. It features music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, and gets its inspiration from the 1976 Bruno Bettelheim book, “The Uses of Enchantment.” The musical won three Tony and four Drama Desk awards.

The story follows a “Baker” who goes into the woods in search of four magical ingredients that will lift a family curse given by a neighborhood witch. The Baker is joined by Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack of beanstalk fame. The quartet also meets up with other classic fairytale characters, including the Prince, the Wolf, the Giant and Rapunzel. Each hopes to find a dream come true. However, each discovers the truth about happy endings.

“ ‘Into the Woods’ isn’t what you might think at first,” said director Courtney Self, an SIUC graduate student. “You’ll see recognizable fairytale characters move past ‘happily-ever-afters’ into the world of human experience. They learn that their wishes may not make them happy, that what happens may not always be fair and most of all, that family, no matter the definition, is the most important thing.”

Self said she was grateful for the opportunity to work with so many young actors in this production.

“I am passionate about the need for theater in our society, especially for young people,” she said. “It’s amazing to have the opportunity to work with these tremendously talented young actors.”

The production is co-presented by McLeod Summer Playhouse and Carbondale Community Arts’ All Southern High School Theater Project.

Here is a cast list, by hometown:


Sara Barnett (Jack’s Mother)

Josh Kimball (Jack)


Nora Benedict (Rapunzel)

Hannah Borowitz (Milky White)

Portia Goodin (Baker’s Wife)

Vlad Noland (Narrator)

Anna Ploegman (Granny)

Tannaz Pourboghrat (Sleeping Beauty)

James Repp (Baker)

Marian Repp (Ensemble)


Meili Couch (Giant, Ensemble)

Rachel Dunning (Lucinda -- Cinderella’s stepsister)

Page Madison (Cinderella’s Mother)

Jeff Watts (Cinderella’s Father)


Angie Fisher (Witch)

Anna Purcell (Florinda -- Cinderella’s stepsister)


Alecia Darnstaedt (Ensemble)

Johnston City

Kyle Franklin (Steward)


Elise Wheaton (Cinderella’s Stepmother)


Maggie O’Neill (Little Red Riding Hood)

Lawrence O’Neill (Cinderella’s Prince, Wolf)

Sarah M. Odle (Cinderella)

Vinny Segretario (Rapunzel’s Prince)

Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Claton Goodman (Mysterious Man)

Rounding out the production backstage are SIUC theater professor Ron Naversen as set designer, graduate student Christine Jacky on lighting, and graduate student Beth Clark with costumes. Kara Gregory, a graduate student in music, serves as musical director and assistant professor Christopher Morehouse directs the MSP orchestra.

The play runs July 30-Aug. 3, with performances at 7:30 p.m., except on Sunday when the performance is a 2 p.m. matinee. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $8 for students and children. Tickets are available before the performance or at the McLeod Box Office by calling 618/453-3001.

Tickets are still available for the Carbondale Community Arts’ All Southern High School Theater Project Mary Ellen Dillard Scholarship Dinner. The dinner precedes the opening night show, 5-7 p.m. on July 30 in the Old Main Restaurant in the Student Center. Tickets are $30 a person. For tickets call CCA at 618/457-5100.