You won’t be alone in loving ‘Into the Woods’

A fairytale for grownups with well-loved children’s characters — Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel — who interact with a baker and his wife longing for a child as a vengeful witch stirs things up, presents a life dilemma: what people wish for and the consequences of those wishes. That’s the basis for “Into the Woods,” the smash 1986 musical with words and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine.

Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts is presenting “Into the Woods: In Concert,” part of their Broadway Series, on Friday, March 8 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, March 9 in two performances, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The cast is a powerful ensemble: “American Idol” Constantine Maroulis (Prince Charming, Big Bad Wolf); Tony-nominated Melissa Errico (The Baker’s Wife); Tony Award-winning Alice Ripley (The Witch); “Sesame Street” regular Alan Muraoka (Narrator/The Mysterious Man); Disney’s “Frozen the Broadway Musical” Alya Schwartz (Little Red Riding Hood); Ali Ewoldt (Cinderella), who played a two-year stretch as Christine in “The Phantom of the Opera”; TV’s “Days of Our Lives” and “Law & Order/SVU” Jim Stanek (The Baker); “The Book of Mormon” national tour star Tyler Jones (Jack), and Broadway actor from Les Misérables Darren Ritchie (Rapunzel’s Prince). Another treat — a 15-piece orchestra will perform on stage conducted by John McDaniel.

The Long Island Advance spoke with producer Stephen DeAngelis about this whimsical, humorous, thoughtful, sometimes edgy adult take that won multiple Tony Awards and has enjoyed many revivals.

Long Island Advance: You will be doing this in concert. So discuss how that unfolds, singing from a score, and how you will approach the sets and costumes.

Stephen DeAngelis: The actors have the option of singing with or without the score in front of them. The cast is so excited because it’s a very influential piece and they get to do it with a full orchestra. You won’t lose anything in the storytelling; all the dialogue is there. Basically, there will be lighting to emulate the forest and sound effects that suggest the mood. John McCann is the conductor; he’s world class and you usually don’t get to see the conductor of his caliber on stage. He loves this piece and Sondheim. I don’t believe the actors will be wearing full-scale costumes, but there will be a few that suggest their characters. I’m sure Ayla, who will play Little Red Riding Hood, will wear a cape. Ayla is 13 years old. We couldn’t resist the opportunity for her to play that role. Alice Ripley is such a force of nature and will handle the danger of The Witch. Melissa Errico, who plays The Baker’s Wife, is a Long Islander. And Ali Ewoldt just played Cinderella. Families can come to a matinee on Saturday, or you can have a great evening out on Friday or Saturday.

LIA: The musical really is magical, but also makes you think. Talk a bit about the theme.

SD: Sondheim and Lapine created these two characters, the baker and his wife, to interact with fairytale characters who would never otherwise have met or interacted with each other. You see the first act end happily ever after. And then in the second act, the story takes a darker turn. It’s what happens next. What’s the result? How does the giant’s death affect everything else, for example? Also, everything you do is part of your legacy. There’s the song, “Children Will Listen,” that is, be careful for the words you say. Also the beautiful “No One Is Alone.” Even in the face of tragedy, the characters bond to form a nontraditional family. Sondheim chose to share the characters in a familiar and an unfamiliar way.

LIA: Who will the narrator be? And who plays Milky White?

SD: The narrator is always part of the show. Alan Muraoka will play him; he was in “Aladdin” on Broadway, but people don’t realize he was on “Sesame Street” for many years. As for Milky White, he will be played traditionally as a prop. We don’t have a real cow — it’s a prop cow. You’ll see the cow serves various functions and has to perform certain tasks.

LIA: Did the actors all jump at this?

SD: Yes! It’s such a good fit. It’s also about availability of the actors, but I’m pretty good about being aware of what people are up to and when. They pretty much have all been in touch with each other when they realized who was in the cast.

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