Western Reserve Academy’s fall musical opening Oct. 26 promises to take the audience "Into the Woods" — where nothing is clear and the journey to "happily ever after" takes different routes.
WRA Fine & Performing Arts Department faculty member Midge Karam ‘79, by way of Stephen Sondheim, brings favorite storybook characters together for this adventurous and cautionary tale, including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Jack.
Performance dates will be Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m.; and Oct. 28 at 2 p.m.
The musical tells the story of a baker and his wife who, as the result of the curse of a once-beautiful witch, are childless. Three days before the rise of a blue moon, they venture into the forest to find the ingredients that will reverse the spell and restore the witch’s beauty. Along their journey, they meet the iconic storybook characters, each on a quest to fulfill their own wish.
"I love this show," said Karam, musical director. "I love the message it sends. You don’t always get what you wish for but often you get what you need. And I like the notion that happily ever after means different things to different people."
One noticeable difference from last year’s "Urinetown" and the previous year’s "Legally Blonde" is the smaller cast size, giving each performer their own chance to shine.
"In the past, the fall musicals have been big shows with big choruses," said Karam. "It felt like a good time for us to do something more intimate. This show is much smaller and has lots of features, so everybody is a lead in a way. This will be the third time Into The Woods has been produced here. It’s truly a star vehicle."
One might say this musical has a special place in Karam’s heart. When she first began running the school’s musicals in 1994, she debuted with "Into the Woods" — with English Department faculty member and alumna Sasha Maseelall ‘96 starring as Sleeping Beauty. This was also the year when the musicals switched from the spring season to a fall performance.
This year’s cast is full of a wide range of ages and stage experience.
"We have a couple of new performers in the show as well as a few students who have never had large roles in the past — like Aubrey, who will take on the role of The Baker’s Wife," said Karam. "Veterans are returning too. Carlin is Cinderella, Suraj is Jack, Harley is the Witch and Noah is our narrator."
Each cast member has committed to large roles in this small-cast performance. Karam is proud of her students for how hard they have worked — and for the unique spin some of them are bringing to their characters.
"Noah is our narrator and is on stage for almost the entirety of the 2.5-hour show," she shared. "I know that Noah has the energy to help keep us moving forward. Tano has the wicked role of the Big Bad Wolf. He is a dancer and moves in really interesting ways. He will bring a fun and unexpected vibe to this character."
Carlin Szilagyi ‘20, who steps into Cinderella’s shoes, had this to say about joining the vibrant cast:
"’Into The Woods’ is by far one of the hardest shows for high school performers, but when taken on by such a talented cast like ours, opening night will be nothing less than spectacular," Szilagyi said. "The music is challenging, intelligent and witty, and the story makes it a timeless yet relevant piece."
Tickets can be purchased at the door and are $5 for students, $8 for parents and free for WRA faculty and staff. Children who come in costume on Sunday will be admitted for free.
Learn more at wra.net.