'Into the Woods Jr.' by Spark Arts

Nancy Sasso Janis

  • OnStage Connecticut Critic

Bethel, CT - Spark Arts of Bethel CT presented two performance of ‘Into The Woods Jr.’ this weekend at the Palace Theater in Danbury. 

The music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine were adapted into a child-friendly version for use by schools and young companies, with the second act completely removed, as well as almost half the material from the first. The show was so shortened that this first act was only 40 minutes, while the music was transposed into keys that more easily fit the young voices of most of these cast members. 

The small stage of the Palace (a space which has a pretty magnificent lobby area and lots of seating) required small props and scenery (designed by Peter Hall) and over the ear microphones were used to be heard over the recorded tracks. Pretty impressive costumes were designed by Julie Edwards, Andrea Barrett and Erin Volpintesta.

There were many very young kids who came out to support family members in the cast and the removal of the scary bits made it appropriate for even them. 

Director Anthony DePoto told us that the group had been rehearsing the musical for two months and only three days at the Palace. They all knew their music and did well with the challenging score. Ms. Volpintesta did the musical direction. The transitions between scenes were quickly carried out by the stage crew and cast members.

Brooke Brescia, Gwen Welfield, and Haley Cronin made up Cinderella’s evil step family, with Katie Boraski was her biological mother speaking to her through a tree. Leo Fagan was Cinderella’s father and Dayo Garritano was her dashing prince. Nicole Bagala was Jack’s demanding mother and Miles Snyder showed off his fine tenor voice and considerable stage presence as Jack. 

Perri Englund also sang very well as the spunky Little Red Riding Hood, with Marissa Uva as her Granny. Zoe Edwards played both a steward to the prince and served as one of the narrators, with Kayleigh Wood and Ms. Welfield as the other storytellers. 

Allison Mele did a fine job of using her voice and movement to play the role of the witch, since she wore a mask that only showed her mouth until her transformation. Shannon Gondoly played her adopted daughter Rapunzel hidden in a tower. Lorenzo Volpintesta was pretty funny in the role of the wolf and also acted well as Rapunzel’s prince. 

Farrah Volpintesta displayed her fine voice and stage presence as the Baker’s Wife and Quentin Marcus as the Baker had an expressive face and easy baritone voice. Stage Crew included Gabriel Obadia and Michaela Louche.
Congratulations to the Spark Arts students on a fine production that showed all of the hard work that they had put into it this summer. Next up will be ‘Seussical The Musical’ with rehearsals starting in November and performances expected to be in January/February. 

Photos courtesy of Spark Arts