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“Into the Woods” is a Delightful Winner    

by | Oct 25, 2023

It’s amazing who you might run into if you dare venture into the woods. Stephen Sondheim’s creativity ran amuck in 1987 when he conjured up the music and lyrics to James Lapine’s storyline based on well-known fairy tales. Into the Woods has it all from a widowed mother with an adventurous son, a conniving baker, a couple of princes, a braided beauty, a scullery maid cum-princess, a witch, and even a female giant.

In 2023, Melissa Ohlman-Roberge the Charlotte/Lake Norman creative director of musical shows didn’t have to venture far to find the perfect high school cast for a two-week run of Community School of Davidson/Mooresville Community Children’s Theatre’s production of Into the Woods. Most of the teenage actors have been performing around the area for years, some have added three, four, and even five shows this year alone.

‘Tis no wonder the full-house audiences at CSD’s Art Space last weekend gave Into the Woods standing ovations each night, to which I’ll add my own enthusiastic applause.

There’s much more that makes the production so great: Milky White, the moving stick-cow created by William Skaggs, Wilson Anderson, Javier Medina, and Trey Small. The amazing Giantess Shoes created by Keegan Deihl, Nathen Weiner, and Nick Jordan. The outstanding costumes designed by Melissa’s oldest daughter Amanda Roberge, who recently completed her MFA at NYU—and was married a month ago – and Tessa Fuller’s significant live sound effects that are clear and timely. I’m impressed!

Griffin Small and Gracie Bryant as Baker and Baker’s Wife (Tammy Davis photo)

Everyone can recognize the characters of Into the Woods, only Sondheim and Lapine take stories like Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Cinderella a bit further, playing out their ultimate outcomes. Melissa Ohlman-Roberge along with Choreographer Jenna Tyrell make them astonishing, lovable, and real, with music directed by Amanda Pauley. The Band at CSD’s Art Space is fantastic with John Smith on piano and synthesizer; Ethan Barret on flute and piccolo; Bill Barnett on bass; and JeVone Primus on percussion.

Connor Cooper, the Narrator, relates the tale. Griffin Small plays the Baker, and his wife is performed by Gracie Bryant.

Bailey Rowles plays Little Red.

Bailey Rowles as Little Red (Tammy Davis photo)

Dylan Underwood plays the role of Jack, and his mother is performed by McKenzie Hawkins. When John Harris isn’t playing the role of Wolf, he’s the prince’s Steward.

Malena Lessa plays the role of Cinderella’s Stepmother; her stuck-up daughters are Lucinda, played by Amelia Rizzardi-Leazer, and Florinda, played by Kate Brower. Cinderella is performed by Hannah King and her handsome Prince by Elijah Holnagel, a welcome new leading actor on the Art Space stage.

Sophie Miller as The Witch (Tammy Davis photo)

The once ugly Witch with a fabulous voice is played by Sophie Miller.

Emerson Bishop is Rapunzel, and her Prince is performed by Garret MacIntyre. Nic Senytiko is the Mysterious Man; Anna Staskel is Sleeping Beauty; and Margot Tate plays Snow White.

Jack Mcree handles the movement and speaks for Milky White. Tyler Senytiko and Nathan Zabinski step forward with the Giantess’s shoes–her sonorous voice recorded by Libby Slosson who is also heard as Little Red’s Granny.

The Ensemble includes James Vale, Taya Gill, Emerson Kertesz, Tessa Fuller, and Maddieanne Suddreth. Matilda Walter is the Principal Puppeteer.

Nat Hotchner, who plays Woodland Elf, is the Leader of the Mini Ensemble consisting of Olivia Kertesz, Stevie Davis, Triston Marsh, Dominic Hotchner, Christina Marzouq, Christiana Kirkland, and Ben Underwood.

Performances of Into the Woods will continue this weekend at Community School of Davidson’s Art Space, 404 Armour Street in Davidson at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, and at 7:30 on Friday and Saturday nights. Matinee performances are at 2 o’clock, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Connie Fisher

Connie Fisher, neé Consuelo Carmona, is a Davidson resident who grew up in Mexico City where she became a journalist and acquired a taste for the theatre. Her preference for work behind the scenes led to an interest in writing reviews—Yale Rep among her favorite troupes. Connie is the author of Doing it the Right Way, the biography of an Italian hatmaker. Her prose appears with 87 other international writers in The Widows’ Handbook. An active, founding member of Lake Norman Writers, Connie just released her latest book, "The Mongrel, Bi-cultural Adventures of a Latina-Scandinavian Youth," a memoir about her years growing up in Mexico.​

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