June 12, 2021

The Editor speaks: If you go “Into The Woods” you are in for a musical feast

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The Cayman Drama Society starts off the 2019/2020 theatre season with their production of “Into The Woods” opening September 12, 2019 and running through October 5th, at the Prospect Playhouse. Doors open at 6:30PM, curtain opens at 7:30PM. There will be no show on Saturday, September 21’1, but instead there will be one Sunday matinee at 4:00PM on September 22, 2019. Into The Woods is an award-winning musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine-Barrie and Teri Quappe are co-Directors, Chuck and Barrie Quappe are the Musical Directors.

“The musical intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales, exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. The main characters are taken from “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Jack and the Beanstalk”, “Rapunzel”, and “Cinderella”, as well as several others. The musical is tied together by a story involving a childless baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family (the original beginning of The Grimm Brothers’ “Rapunzel”), their interaction with a witch who has placed a curse on them, and their interaction with other storybook characters during their journey.” – Wikipedia.

I was present with my wife, Joan, at the Dress Rehearsal last Tuesday (10) and Joan returned with a friend last Saturday (14) as a member of the live audience.

Her verdict. She thought it was brilliant at the DR and absolutely fabulous at the live performance. What made it better was the feedback from the audience, she said, that was missing from the DR. There was only five of us in attendance then. The audience showed their appreciation with their laughter and applause. It received a standing ovation at the end of Act One and, of course, Act Two with many cheers. She did not hear one word of complaint.

I am not surprised. I thought it was brilliant in the stark, bare surrounding of empty seats and the whispered directions to the lighting crew by one of the production members.

From the CDS handout I was given at the door:

“CDS is proud to have such an amazing cast for this incredible show. An incredible ensemble musical, many familiar faces will be seen including Dominic Wheaton as Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince, Vanessa Hansen as the Baker’s Wife/Granny, Teri Quappe as Witch/Cinderella’s mother, Melody AIIenger as Cinderella, Neil Hamaty as Mysterious Man/Narrator, Kayla Manderson as StepMother, Adam Pellow as Cinderella’s father, Zoe Suliz as Lucinda, India Dawson-James as Rapunzel and Li2lm Oko as Steward, we also welcome new faces with 12 year old Chad Powell as Jack, Jose Zambrano as Rapunzel’s Prince; Nicolas Picard as the Baker, Darlene Oko as Jack’s mother, Emma Oko as Milky White, Jardae Barnes as Little Red Riding Hood and Gabby Robinson as Florinda.

“With incredible and memorable songs such as “Children Will Listen” and “Last Midnight, this extraordinarily challenging musical is about what one may wish for and what can really happen if your wishes come true-a sort of be careful what you wish for and what happens after happily ever after. This award winning musical is a delight with wit, imagination and beautiful music. Keep an eye out for the wolf, listen to the witch and, whatever you do, respect the giant in the sky.

“Chuck Quappe leads the talented orchestra on piano with Kate AIIenger-Violin, Amber McMillan-Euphonium; Charity Putman-Trombone/Tuba; Roger “Bugs” Wilson on Acoustic Bass; Barrie Quappe-Percussion/Drums and Emily Farren-Clarinets/Flute/Piccolo.

“Cayman audiences can expect to be wowed by the scenic design by Tansi Make, the costume design by Violetta Kanareck and Charity Putman with lighting design by Teri Quappe and Duncan Kilpatrick and sound design by Chuck Quappe and James Gibb.”

Before the show started I interviewed Chuck and Barrie Quappe and Producer, Sheree Ebanks. This is what I learnt.

The three of them had been talking about staging “Into The Woods” for eight years ago but it wasn’t until one and a half years ago they decided it was time to actually stage it.

Chuck had been the one to put the damper on the early idea because of the very difficult story line that would need a lot of very talented actors, especially from the male leads. I know how difficult it is to find male actors of any calibre. Then there was the singing, Chuck said. Very, very difficult. Sondheim is always difficult and this one is the biggest challenge. That is why very few amateur societies take it on. And worse. The music itself. There was no way Chuck, Barrie or Sheree were going to stage it with piped music. It had to be live.

However, times have changed. From the first beginnings, when I was involved, even before The Playhouse came to be completed, when it was ‘amateur’ theatre and the talent was mainly ‘raw’. Those tender seedlings have grown into what is now professional shows where the artists don’t do it for money – they do it because they ENJOY being on stage and entertaining.

The talent on this production is just amazing. Nicolas Picard, who plays the Baker is a trained opera singer who had never before sung anything in English.

Dominic Wheaton, who plays the horrible wolf, and in his other part a prince, found a look-a-like, Jose Zambrano, who plays his brother – also a prince.

Barrie told me, fifteen year old Jardae Barns, turned up for the auditions and immediately got cast a Little Red Riding Hood. She looked the part and, amazingly, had never acted before or sung in public, never taken a lesson in either, and in Barrie’s words, was “a Director’s dream”.

I also spoke to Vanessa Hansen, who I know very well, She told me this was the musical she always wanted to be in. She had auditioned for a role in it at college but didn’t get cast so she was thrilled when the CDS announced they were going to stage it. She got one of the lead roles. The Baker’s Wife. The most difficult song for her was “Moments In The Wood” where she has to sing with many different emotions. I can vouch, she performed it 100%!

I also spoke to the youngest member of the cast, Chad Powell, Jr., who wants to be a movie actor. He told me sadly, there are seldom any movies made here so he is turning his attention to stage. This is his biggest part to date, and all of his other acting roles had been school productions. He is really enjoying it and has learnt a lot. He said he was so nervous now he almost threw up in the Green Room. He didn’t but he did call Technical Week – “HELL WEEK”! A very good name.

I cannot recommend this production highly enough. You MUST come and see it for yourselves. Not just once but twice. You will not catch all the many variations and intricacies of the script and the songs in just one attendance.

The costumes are just beautiful as is the set. And the Prospect Playhouse foyer has been designed as the interior of the Giant’s House with everything BIG!

As for the individual performances?

They were ALL very good. There are so many leads in this production and it would take another review to go through them all and I would be saying almost the same. VERY GOOD!! Instead I will give you my favourite scene and songs.

The Wolf and Red Riding Hood.

The Witch “Lament” and Baker’s Wife “Moments In The Wood”.

I leave you with these words from Sheree:

“YOU DON’T NEED TO GO TO BROADWAY OR LONDON ANYMORE TO SEE LIVE THEATER. STAY HERE AND COME TO THE PROSPECT PLAYHOUSE IN RED BAY.”

The Cayman Drama Society is a community theatre housed at The Prospect Playhouse in Red Bay, a 130 seat theatre, and performs approximately five shows per year, including one major musical.

Tickets are available at www.cds.ky

IMAGES: Georgina Wilcox

See also iNews Cayman story and more images at: http://www.ieyenews.com/wordpress/u-must-go-into-the-woods/

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