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Talented WLHS actors go 'Into the Woods'

Tickets now available for the Sondheim musical, opening Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.


West Linn High School’s theater department will debut its first show of the 2013-14 school year when the characters of Stephen Sondheim’s challenging fairy tale drama “Into the Woods” take the stage starting Nov. 7.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - The cast of West Linn High Schools production of Into the Woods rehearses Oct. 28. “It’s a show of leads,” the show’s director, Jon Ares, said. The cast includes familiar characters from timeless fairy tales such as Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White. Two characters, the Baker and the Baker’s Wife, link all the stories as they embark on quests for magical objects that will break the witch’s curse that keeps them childless.

Senior Riley Olson plays the Baker, with junior Ellie Jones playing his wife.

“I knew I wanted to try out for the musical,” Jones said, calling “Into the Woods” one of her favorite shows. “The music is incredible. The storyline has depth to it. It’s a bit of a challenge, but I love it when it comes together.”

Olson was similarly enthusiastic about the play.

“Anytime I can participate in a musical, it’s a golden opportunity,” he said. “This show is phenomenal. I think it’s one of the best shows ever written.”

Ares was drawn to the show’s challenges too.

“I enjoy ‘difficult’ music, both as an actor/storyteller and as a director,” he said. “I greatly appreciate Stephen Sondheim’s holistic approach to the storytelling with the lyrics of the music. Much like opera ... the story is told almost completely through songs. And they’re tough songs!”

The cast up for the task, he added.

"This is a great cast, with powerhouse singers that are great musicians. Their musicianship is definitely an asset in navigating these tricky counts, lyrics and rhythms,” Ares said. “Sondheim doesn’t write for unskilled performers, and these high school students are up for the challenge.”

Ares called the play “a show of leads,” because each fairy tale has its own cast.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Rochelle Biancardi, foreground, plays the Witch who sets the plot of in 'Into the Woods' in motion. From left are Claire Baumgardner (Cinderella), Riley Olson (the Baker), Kyle Fulton (Jack) and Riley Knowles (Little Red Riding Hood). “Each character has something they want,” Olson said. “The woods stand in the way of them getting it. You have to go into the woods to get what you want. It’s not an inviting place.”

The audience will find many familiar themes in the first act as they watch beloved characters dance and sing on stage.

“Little kids are probably going to enjoy it,” Jones said — even the second act, when the play takes a dark turn. “The giant comes down the beanstalk and starts wreaking havoc,” Jones warned. As is typical with fairy tales, everything comes out right in the end.

“It’s not really a happy ending,” Jones said. “But the ending that’s not happy does give a sense of hope.”

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Ellie Jones and Riley Olson set off to retrieve objects from four fairy tales to lift the witchs curse.Both Olson and Jones said the production’s cast is one of its strengths. The play does not have a chorus or nameless ensemble. Each character onstage has a name and a story.

“Everyone is really talented,” Olson said. “It’s definitely one of the closest casts I’ve been in. It comes across. I think the audience will be able to tell.”

He identified the song “No More” as his favorite in the show.

“My character is faced with an ultimate choice, and it’s a personal matter. I’m really connected to the Baker at that point,” he said.

Jones said her favorite scenes were the ones she shared with Olson.

“The Baker and the Baker’s Wife clash, so it’s really fun to work all the emotions and layers into the scene of a couple of pages,” she said.

“She definitely wears the pants in our relationship,” Olson added.

“I think it would be very difficult to be bored by this show,” Jones said.

Tickets are now available for “Into the Woods,” with shows scheduled Nov. 7, 8 and 9 and Nov. 14, 15 and 16. All shows start at 7 p.m. at West Linn High School. Tickets are $8 for students and $10 for adults. Purchase online at blogs.wlhs.wlwv.k12.or.us/Theatre.

Kate Hoots can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 112. Follow her on Twitter, @CommuniKater.




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