Lea Zawada stars as Ruby Miller, aka Little Red

by: SUBMITTED PHOTOS:  DAVID KINDER  - NWCTs world premiere of Little Red Riding Hood opens Saturday and stars Lea Zawada as Little Red.

Lakeridge High School senior Lea Zawada is no stranger to the stage. She is an active performer in school productions as well as with Oregon Children’s Theatre and NW Children’s Theatre.

She is currently rehearsing for NWCT’s latest world premiere, “Little Red ‘Riding Hood,’” a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired update of the classic children’s tale, which focuses on female empowerment, overcoming gender stereotypes and steering your own path towards happiness.

Zawada is cast in the lead role of Ruby Miller, aka Little Red. An enthusiastic would-be mechanic, Ruby prefers repairing cars in shop class over baking muffins in home ec. That’s where The Wolf (Dane Shroy) steps in, determined to make sure Ruby knows she doesn’t belong behind the wheel. What he doesn’t know is that Ruby’s Grandma (Jenny Bunce) is a bit of a mechanic herself, having been a riveter during the war. Mr. Meineke, the shop teacher (local comedian Kevin-Michael Moore) keeps the students at Forrester High honest and might have a few secrets of his own.

“It’s really an awesome production and definitely a new twist to the tale,” Zawada said. “It has great songs that have been rewritten from ’50s hits. The finale is a rewrite of ‘Jail House Rock,’ with different words, but you can recognize it.”

“Little Red ‘Riding Hood,’” is the latest adaptation in a series of NWCT world premieres that examine gender stereotypes in fairy tales.

“Once we took away the original story’s period lessons of obedience above all else, and the admonition to ‘stay on the path,’ what we were left with was the story of a young girl heading out into the world on her own for the first time,” Artistic Director Sarah Jane Hardy said. “That’s the story we wanted to tell. In the 1950s, society’s focus was on re-establishing gender norms after women entered the workforce during the war. Women were learning that going back into the kitchen might not be all it was cracked up to be.”

Setting the play in ’50s America also opened the door to an exciting moment in musical history. The original score, created by composer Bob Hardy, draws heavily on the rock ‘n’ roll style of Elvis Presley, Bill Hailey, Chuck Berry and many others. Period costumes are created with imagination and flair by award-winning costume designer Mary Rochon.

“Little Red ‘Riding Hood’” opens Saturday and continues through May 26, with afternoon and evening performances. Tickets range from $13 to $18 for youth and $18 to $22 for adults. Purchase online at or call the box office at 503-222-4480.

Lea Zawada is a senior at Lakeridge High. She has been heavily involved in school theater productions and with Oregon Childrens Theatre and NW Childrens Theatre.

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