“Into The Woods” was supposed to be presented at Centralia College two years ago but its premiere was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the wait was not her choice, director Emmy Kreilkamp said it may have made the timing of the show even more perfect in the end.
“I think the play will resonate more now that we have gone through a time of darkness and isolation,” Kreilkamp said. “The characters are dealing with an immense challenge and on top of that they are having all of these philosophical questions like: ‘how do we know what we know?’; ‘what is the right thing to do?’; and ‘how do I find my way when everything has changed?’”
Capping Centralia College Drama’s 2021-2022 season, “Into The Woods” opens Friday and runs through May 22 at Corbet Theatre in Centralia. Written by the late Stephen Sondheim, “Into The Woods” is a musical that interweaves many of the classic “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” characters that first hit Broadway in 1987 and the big screen in 2014. Cinderella (portrayed by Kat Sheridan) wishes for an invitation to the ball to meet Prince Charming (portrayed by Kyle Murphy) and to leave her life of servitude to her stepmother (portrayed by Jennifer Weber) and step-sisters (portrayed by Kelsi Mack and Emma Ricks). The Baker (portrayed by Nick Hall) and his wife (portrayed by Lucy Page) wish to lift the curse put on their house by the witch (portrayed by Heather Matthews) so they can have a child. Rapunzel (portrayed by Madi Stark) wishes to leave her tower and be with her prince (portrayed by Odette Mohr). Jack (portrayed by Lenora Page) wishes to leave his life of poverty and to not have to sell his beloved cow to support his mother (portrayed by Bri Tomtan) and Little Red Riding Hood (portrayed by Emily Cole) just wishes to bring her granny (portrayed by Katherine Gulmert) something nourishing to eat. In the end, they get what they want but then collectively face a threat they must face together.
“It’s a happily ever after but at what cost?” Mohr said.
“This is a play about the human experience,” added Hall. “These people get everything they’ve ever wanted and then have to struggle with their biggest tragedies. We are faced with something that seems impossible and all the characters have to come together and overcome it.”
“Into The Woods” was originally set to anchor the college’s 2020 theater season. The show was already in rehearsals when the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything, including the college campus and theaters nationwide, down for what was hoped to be just a few weeks.
“When we had to cancel it, we thought we would be able to do it the following fall or spring, not knowing it would be a two-year wait to put it on,” Kreilkamp said.
Kreilkamp explained that she decided to bring “Into The Woods” forward into this season because it is a great show. She added Sondheim’s passing just a few months ago also makes the show’s timing even more poignant.
“I still think it’s a beautiful piece of musical theater,” Kreilkamp said. “It is unlike all of the Golden Age stories. It doesn’t have a happy ending and it’s got a lot of complex characters. The whole story is really one that speaks to a 21st Century audience.”
Six of the 18 cast members for “Into The Woods” were originally cast in the 2020 show and have been waiting two years for their chance to take the stage. Coming straight from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” at the Evergreen Playhouse, Hall was cast to play the Baker in 2020 and said the wait was worth it to finally get to portray one of his dream roles.
“I’m kind of happy it’s happening at all. I’m so happy to be here finally and actually get to do it,” Hall said.
“It’s been a long wait for this,” added Cole, who has also been waiting since 2020 to play the role of Little Red Riding Hood. “There were times I thought it might just never happen. I’m just happy.”
Kreilkamp said she would rate “Into The Woods” PG-13 because these fairy tale characters are not the Disney versions. She said parents of younger audience members need to know there is some violence and sinister elements, such as heroes not always being admirable characters.
If You Go …
What: Centralia College Theatre presents “Into the Woods”
When: 7 p.m. May 13-14 and May 19-21 and 2 p.m. May 15 and May 22
Where: Corbet Theatre in Washington Hall on the Centralia College Campus
Tickets: $12 adults $10 students/seniors
Information: Centralia College Theatre on Facebook, centralia.edu/pathways/arts-humanities/drama.aspx or call the box office at 360-623-8871.