Riverland theatre and music departments kick off season by going “Into the Woods”

Published 9:09 am Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Riverland Community College theatre and music departments begin their 2015-16 season with the beloved musical “Into the Woods,” with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine.

Fairy tales collide when Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, a childless baker and his wife all head into the woods to pursue their wishes. Along the way, the characters discover that wishes are rarely as simple as they seem and the consequences of their actions return to haunt them. Recently made into a popular Disney film, “Into the Woods” is a rare modern-day classic that continues to challenge and entertain it’s viewers, according to a press release.

Riverland Theatre Director Lindsey Duoos Williams directs “Into the Woods.” Laurie Helmers is the vocal director. The conductor is Brian Koser. The set and lighting designer is Mark Spitzer. The costumes are by Carley Carranza and Jennifer Wiebrand. Props are by Alexa Ferguson. The production is stage managed by Karina Hernandez.

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“Though it’s almost 30 years old, “Into the Woods” has had a resurgence of popularity recently due to last year’s Disney film adaptation,” said Duoos Williams.“The film was entertaining and featured some wonderful actors; however, I feel that the magic of this story is best captured on stage. I think that people who enjoyed the movie will find even more to love about the original stage version.”

The cast of “Into the Woods” includes Carrie Braaten (Austin) as Cinderella’s Stepmother, Jodie Bratager (Rochester) as Lucinda, Jen Bute (Alden) as Cinderella’s Mother/Granny/Giant, Morgan Dickman (Austin) as the Witch, Tess Douty (Adams) as Snow White, Alexa Ferguson (Lyle) as Rapunzel, Joseph Gerber (Austin) as Cinderella’s Prince, Robert Johnson (Blooming Prairie) as the Wolf/Cinderella’s Father, Garrin Loveland (Austin) as Jack, Emily McAlister (Austin) as Little Red Ridinghood, Lindsey McAlister (Austin) as Florinda, Claire Olson (Austin) as Cinderella, Kristy Possin (New Richland) as Sleeping Beauty, Raymond Riepe (Austin) as the Baker, Bryana Thorson (Luverne) as the Baker’s Wife, Vic Wylde (Austin) as Rapunzel’s Prince, SarahLynn Zavoral (Austin) as Jack’s Mother, Danny Ziebell (Kasson) as the Steward, and James Zschunke (Austin) as the Narrator/Mysterious Man.

“We had 50 people audition for the 19 roles in this production, which is the most we’ve had audition for a show in many years,” said Williams. “I think that’s a testament to how much people love this story and these characters.  We’ve ended up with a truly ‘all-star’ cast that is, like all of our productions, a mix of students and local community members. Any musical by Stephen Sondheim requires not only exceptional actors, but also exceptional musicians and we’re lucky to have such amazing talent that fits the bill.”

“Into the Woods” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7 through Oct. 10 and at 2 p.m. Oct. 11 at Frank W. Bridges Theatre.

Individual tickets to “Into the Woods” are $16 and are on sale at www.riverland.edu/tickets. The online ticketing system allows customers to choose their seats and pay by Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover. Tickets may also be purchased at the Riverland Box Office, located in room E107 in the East Building of the Austin campus. Box office hours are from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour before performances.

Riverland students receive two free tickets to each performance with a valid student ID. Contact the box office at 507-433-0595 or email boxoffice@riverland.edu.

“Into the Woods” is suggested for ages 10 and up. Riverland Theatre strives to provide quality productions that are entertaining and challenging to both the audience and the artists.  Because the college such a diverse audience, some audience members may find some subject matter, language or situations objectionable. The theater asks those who have concerns about a specific production to become familiar with the material before attending the performance.

Riverland’s Theatre Department is a high-energy performance-oriented program. Plays produced vary from classical tragedy to modern comedy and from full-scale large cast musicals in intimate small cast plays. Students are encouraged to get involved in all areas of theatre production including, but not limited to, acting, stage managing, set building and painting. Strong academic offerings provide challenges in and out of the classroom.