‘Into the Woods Jr.’ offers a new twist on traditional tales

Photo by Sue Suchyta
The Players Guild of Dearborn presents “Into the Woods Jr.” July 18 to 20 with William Dunn (left), 17, of Taylor as Rapunzel’s prince; and Dearborn residents Emma Scott, 15, as Rapunzel; Madelyn Kaplan, 15, as Cinderella; and Alec Sheldon, 16, as Cinderella’s prince.

The Players Guild of Dearborn opens a teen production of “Into the Woods Jr.” July 17 to 20 at the playhouse, 21730 Madison in Dearborn.

For $7 tickets, or more information, call 313-561-TKTS or go to playersguildofdearborn.org.

The fractured fairy tale, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, takes classic fairy tales and explores what happens on the way to “happily ever after.”

Director Greg Viscomi said “Into the Woods” is one of his favorite musicals, and he has directed and staged it before. He said there are several reasons why it is a good choice for the Guildlings’ teen contingent.

“It has a great book, it has a great musical score that will challenge them vocally, and it will challenge them dramatically onstage,” Viscomi said.

He said he hopes audiences will enjoy the interplay between Sondheim’s contemporary take on the characters from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and the intertwining of how all the different stories come together.

“It is basically the first act of the original ‘Into the Woods,’” Viscomi said. “The second act of the original ‘Into the Woods’ is much darker, and so this stops at the end of the first act, where it ends with a very happy ending. It is lighter, more fun.”

He said the interplay of the four stories coming together – Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk – shows how they end up intertwined, and it is enjoyable to audiences.

He said the Baker and the Baker’s wife are “created characters” for the play, and they end up tying the stories together.

“It is a bunch of people getting their wishes, but getting their wishes in different ways than they originally planned,” Viscomi said. “The more adult issues of the (original) story never come into play because we don’t get into the second act. This is a little more appropriate, and something the Guild felt strongly about doing with the teenagers.”

He said the junior version of the show is appropriate for all audiences.

“I think it is going to be an enjoyable evening of theater,” Viscomi said. “It will be a lot of fun.

Four roles are double cast, so on July 17 and 19 four actors will be different from the performances on the 18th and 20th, Viscomi he said.

“The rest of the cast will be the same, but you will see a different show with different actors up there,” he said.

Tim Carney of Livonia is the show’s producer, with Dearborn residents Julie Malloy as musical director, Suzy Greimel as choreographer, Dave Woods as the stage manager and Diane Kaplan as the costumer.

Dearborn residents in the cast are Scout Greimel, 14, as the Narrator; Joey Garza, 11, as Jack on Friday and Sunday; Peter Moore, 12, as Jack on Thursday and Saturday; Ben Timpf, 18, as the Baker; and Joanna Frantz, 18, as Cinderella’s stepmother.

Other Dearborn cast members are Heather Slanac, 14, as Lucinda, a stepsister; Lia Bertucci, 15, as Cinderella’s mother and Red Riding Hood’s Granny; Nathaniel Booth, 18, as the Big Bad Wolf; and Emma Scott, 15, as Rapunzel.

Other Dearborn residents in the cast are Alec Sheldon, 16, as Cinderella’s Prince; Adriana Viscomi, 11, As Milky White; Mary Charara, 18, as Cinderella on Friday and Sunday; Madelyn Kaplan, 15, as Cinderella on Thursday and Saturday; Casey Irwin, 17, as Jack’s mother; Marjorie Gaber, 16, as the Baker’s wife; Maria Viscomi, 15, as the Witch on Thursday and Saturday; Omar Alami, 15, as the Mysterious Man; and Henry Bierman, 15, as the Steward.

Other cast members are Quinn Higgins, 13, of Northville as Florinda, one of the stepsisters, Hailey Hayward, 13, of Wayne as Little Red Riding Hood Thursday and Saturday; Riley Klauza, 14, of New Boston as Little Red Riding Hood Friday and Sunday; Ian Haas, 14, of Inkster as Cinderella’s father; Jennifer Lessnau, 16, of Livonia as the Witch on Friday and Sunday; and William Dunn, 17, of Taylor as Rapunzel’s prince.