Nancy Sasso Janis
OnStage Connecticut Critic
Wishes come true. Not free.
Woodbridge CT - The Amity Creative Theater always sets the bar high for their musical productions and this year is no exception, for they chose ‘Into The Woods’ with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. Amity Theater Arts Teacher Robert Kennedy, who shares directorial duties with his wife Andrea Kennedy, writes in his insightful director’s note that “on the surface, ‘Into the Woods’ is an entertaining blend of some of the world’s most beloved fairy tales set to the magnificent music” of Mr. Sondheim.
“However, like all the best fairy tales, it contains light and darkness, becoming a metaphor for our own personal journeys in life…’Into the Woods’ is the title, but it’s also a sly pun, where these characters are venturing isn’t just a forest but a place thick with ‘woulds,’ with obligations, possibilities, conditions and most of all: consequences.” I carefully watched this production with these words in mind and developed a new appreciation for a musical that has never really been one of my favorites.
This production marked the second time that the Kennedys and musical director Peter Randazzo have collaborated on this show about children and what it means to be a parent. Ten years ago when they worked at Shelton HS, all three were the parents of young children; their point of view as parents “has changed immeasurably, and it has been an honor rediscovering this beautiful piece of art with fresh eyes and new perspective.” In a different venue and with different students, this production was quite impressive and their version of the show had a little twist at the beginning and the end. The synopsis in the 8 ½ by 11 inch program covered six full pages, so I was glad that the show began promptly at 7:30pm to an almost full audience.
From the first notes of the prologue to the big and brassy “Ever After” that closes the first act, through the surprisingly comical “Agony” sung by the princes, the directors ensured that the young actor’s performances rose to the level of the outstanding technical aspects of an Amity show. They all gave one hundred percent to their fairy tale character and we quickly forgot the ages of these performers.
The cast was slightly smaller than usual for Amity, with only nine students listed as ensemble members joined by six others who also took on the role of a fairy tale character briefly. The 24- piece orchestra comprised of student musicians performed perfectly under the direction of Phil Dolan. Mrs. Kennedy served as choreographer and her husband designed the wonderful set.
Costumes designed by Julie Chevan, with Brenda Burt, were divine and a large crew constructed and cared for them Video projections were designed by Andrew Gusciora.
Because every one of the young actors were so professional, I am unable to single out even a few of them for outshining their castmates. Freshman Ian Pittenger played the young narrator and Alaina Dwyer played the Witch. Senior Jacob Leibowitz was the Baker and senior Clara Gamsu was his wife. Senior Karalyn Kachmar was the always-singing Rapunzel. Sophomore Emily Kilian was Cinderella and junior Yuliya Faryna, seniors Audrey Grotheer and Lauren Flaumenhaft were her stepfamily. Sophomore Robert “Bo” Worth and sophomore Harrison Paek played those fickle princes and Senior Ryan Chizmadia was the leather-clad Wolf.
Josiah Oakley (Terk in last year’s ‘Tarzan’) played Jack who climbed the beanstalk and senior Abby Hazlett was his mother. Freshman Lillian Querker ruled the role of Little Red and sophomore Maren Westgard was her Granny. Senior Christopher Cassella was a mysterious man and junior Ryan Rattley was the prince’s steward. Cinderella’s mother and father were played by sophomore Annie Foley and junior Jeff Gallo and sophomore Ali Ashworth voiced the Giant. Junior Kelsey Paier and senior Christina Genovese appeared briefly as Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.
Congratulations to the Amity community on another stellar production, not to mention another fabulous decorated lobby. A few tickets are available for the remaining performances scheduled for next Friday and Saturday and they may be purchased online at www.amitytheaterdepartment.com
Photo by Amity Creative Theater