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Inside “Into the Woods” at Serrano High School

PHOTO: T.A. Graydon - NewsPlus

The cast of “Into The Woods” receive a standing ovation.

Conjuring up a delightful moral to the story with a whimsical display of singing, dancing, and acting, The Serrano High Theatre Arts Department and “The Majestics” presented “Into The Woods” at the beautiful Serrano High School Performing Arts Center Friday night, April 28, 2023, with the first of four performances. The final two performances will be Friday and Saturday, May 5,6, at 7:00 pm.

Conductor, Serrano Music Director Matthew Fell, and the Serrano High School Pit Orchestra, and Vocal Director Jonny Dolan prepare for their musical journey “Into The Woods.”

Originally produced in 1987 by the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California, “Into The Woods” was presented through a special arrangement with Music Theatre International. The brilliant production of Director Beverly Quinn and the Serrano Theatre Arts Department with Janet Eaton and CTE Stagecraft would set the stage for some of Serrano High School’s most talented young performers. For a show prelude, the Pit Orchestra, conducted masterfully by Music Director Matthew Fell, opened the show with a showcase of some of the featured songs. With original orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, the musicians in the orchestra pit were flawless, doing a fine job staying on cue for the many “Foley” type sound effects, such as giant footsteps performed by the tympany drum or crashes by the cymbals for thunder.

Serrano Teacher Melissa Sullivan assists Costume Designer Allison Knowlton primping “Rapunzel” Jayden Woods for the show.

A modern dance arrangement by the Serrano High Dance department under the direction of Kristan Grijalva played out with dancers Zaniyah Alcantar, Jane-Marie Hernandez, Liberty Hoffmeier, Jacob Lopez, Madalyn Lopez, Xenos Malott, and Kendra Frazier, gliding and swirling in a ballet type exhibition of beauty and skill for the comfortably full auditorium. The prologue, narrated by Serrano student Christopher Salinas expertly navigated the audience through the show. Cinderella, played by Caitlynn Moen, wishes to go to the Ball for her Prince, Miguel Rica and is interrupted by her evil stepmother Naomi Purcell and her obnoxious family. The Baker and his wife, Teagen Tollack and Bryanna Rivera, ponder the possibilities of making a deal with the evil Witch, expertly portrayed by the lovely Alli Phipps, who agrees to help them have a baby if they fulfill her demands.

Big Bad Wolf (Joshua Vance) leads Little Red Riding Hood (Gersemy Martinez) into the woods.

Meanwhile, Gersemy Martinez, as Little Red Riding Hood, is off into the woods to visit Grandma, played by Lily McNeal, when she encounters Joshua Vance, who happens to be “The Big Bad Wolf.” All the while, Rapunzel, Jayden Woods, is waiting in the Witch’s Tower with her corn-colored lengths of hair just waiting to be tangled with. This gives the cast no choice but to mob up on off-stage narrator Salinas in the song “Your Fault” at the musical’s climax. The poor Giant even becomes an innocent victim. All trails converge as the principal characters pursue their wishes, receiving only more problems to deal with. With complications like Rapunzel’s hair being stolen by Little Red Riding Hood, Jack trading off his beans looking for Giants, or the Baker’s indecision on child raising, the enormity of this twisted plot comes out to equal the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for.” Magically, Milky White the cow, herded sheepishly by cow tender Quinn Bailey, begins to milk, the Baker and his wife have a baby, Red Riding Hood disposed of the Big Bad Wolf, Cinderella got her prince, Jack has the golden egg and singing harp from the poor Giant, and Rapunzel and the Witch reunite with everyone realizing the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of “The Woods.”

Baker (Teagen Tollack), and Jack (Gary Worth), listen in on Little Red Riding Hood (Gersemy Martinez) and Cinderella (Caitlynn Moen) singing “No one is alone.”

When asked how she gets into character for the portrayal of the Witch, Allison Phipps replied, “I become my character!” and what would she say to newcomers to the Serrano PAC? “Come see us again!” she boasted. Baker, Teagen Tollack mentioned this was his first time in a play ever. “It’s tough to get into character, but once you get going, it gets better.” He laughed. “Come watch it! It’s great! It’s a fun time!” Teagen announced. Narrator Chris Salinas couldn’t have said it simpler, “Come and see the show!” he repeated. Cast performances for the May 5 and 6, 2023 performances will be Jacalyn Harden as the Baker’s wife, Rowan Cannaday as the Witch, Lily Vessels as Cinderella, Genevieve Brown portraying Little Red Riding Hood, and Gabriel Contreras as Cinderella’s father.

Evil Stepmom (Naomi Purcell), Cinderella (Caitlynn Moen) and sisters Lucinda and Florinda (Ashlyn Bradshaw and Natalie Brito) contemplate their options for the Prince’s Ball.

Tickets are still available for the May shows and can be purchased in advance at Serrano High School, on their website, or at the door for $10 each. Don’t miss this magical and entertaining production that is sure to delight you. Into the Woods is recommended for ages eight and up.

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