A Magical Adventure
In the original Stephen Sondheim production of Into the Woods, favorite fairy tale characters such as Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack of the Beanstalk fame, and the ever-present nemesis—the Witch—are among those featured in this musical romp through the woods. But as with many modern retellings of old tales, the musical—Including the Junior version—has a few plotline twists to keep the stories fresh.
In the capable hands of the director/choreographer Kim Dufrenoy, Vocal Director Fred Diekmann, and Producer/Lighting director Ari Kramer, keeping the Sayville Middle School Musical performance of Into the Woods, Jr. fresh was no problem. The Middle School cast (see program below) was eager to take the stage and perform before a live audience, especially after last year’s restrictions.
And they did not disappoint—their comic timing and enchanting singing were thoroughly entertaining. However, the Middle School Directors added their own twists. Two dance numbers that had the audiences tapping and singing along—talk about audience participation—were added to showcase the special talents of Sayville Middle School’s cast.
This special twist was thanks to Kim Dufrenoy who took poetic license in her choice of songs. “We both realized,” Fred Diekmann explained, “last year with Camp Rock, that the sixth and seventh grade students really enjoyed dancing, and they were good at it. Into The Woods, Jr. is not a show that heavily features dancing, so Kim added Ballroom Blitz as a way to highlight that aspect of the cast’s talents. The Smashmouth version of I'm A Believer is featured in the movie Shrek, which is similar in tone to Into The Woods, Jr., so this seemed like a good piece of music to use for the chase sequence.”
"Ballroom Blitz," Kim Dufrenoy explained, "was a song recorded by a band called Sweet, back in the 70s. Just thought how perfect to add a dance number which would include all the kids and even more perfect that it would take place at the Ball, a scene I added to the show. When I came upon the song Ballroom Blitz, it was perfect. As for I’m a Believer originally performed by the Monkeys back in the day—although used in Shrek—I again found it perfect to have a chance to add all the kids in a chase scene. The prince is always chasing after Cinderella… And then I saw her face, the song starts...how perfect was this song to have all the kids involved in Prince Charming’s chase. Another scene I added to the show. I’m so glad the audience loved it."
The unexpected mix of the late Stephen Sondheim's music with pop tunes for the entertaining dance numbers was a recipe for freshness that was unique to the Sayville Middle School production. The cast was enlivened by it and the audiences savored it—a tasty treat for all who attended.
In addition to ensuring the actors were prepared for a live performance, so much work went on behind the curtain—scenery, makeup, props, costumes. Kudos and congratulations go to the entire cast and crew (see program) for taking Sayville audiences on a memorable magical adventure into the woods.
For hundreds of photos from the peformances, click on this PHOTO ALBUM LINK FOR MS "Into the Woods, Jr."