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'Into The Woods' brings fantasy to life at Peoria Players

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Blending several well-known fairy tales into one musical sounds like something only a person who can’t get enough happily-ever-afters would do. At least, that is, until Act 2. Then it all changes.

That’s what one gets with the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical “Into The Woods,” which opens Friday at Peoria Players Theatre. And while the basis of the show is fantasy – sometimes light- often dark – the message audiences are left with is timely with today’s political landscape, said Connie Sinn, who is directing the show and its cast of 22 people.

“This really is a show with a message. It’s a message that we all need to work together and get rid of all the hatred and prejudices,” Sinn said. “The writers are trying to teach us a lesson that we are not alone in the world and that everything we do affects other people. We all need to be aware that we are a community.

“It is a very timely musical right now, I think.”

“Into The Woods” focuses on a baker and his wife who want to start a family. In their quest to do so and to rid themselves of a curse placed on them by a wicked witch, they pass through the fairy tales “Rapunzel,” “Jack and the Beanstalk”, “Cinderella” and “Little Red Riding Hood.” They meet and interact the main characters of those Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales along the way, helping those characters fulfill each of their wishes as well as their own.

The story of the Baker and his Wife is the beginning of the “Rapunzel” tale and it is one they go into the woods that the stories intertwine, Sinn said. “And oh how wonderful it is when, by the end of Act 1, all the wishes have been fulfilled and it looks like everybody is going to live happily ever after,” she said.

“Then comes Act 2,” she added, stopping there so as not to give any more away.

“It’s a charming and very funny story. Even though it all works out by the end of Act 1, it is very entertaining to see how they arrive there,” Sinn said. “It truly is an ensemble piece with great roles and great music. It’s very difficult musically, but it is beautiful music. That is why I have wanted to direct this show from the first time I heard it.”

Sinn said she is fortunate to have Susan Somerville Brown direct the music and the 11-piece orchestra and Michelle Loeffler to do the choreography. “I’m extremely pleased with all of it,” said Sinn, who has directed many musicals on Peoria-area stages.

For this one, Sinn did much of the set, as well. In includes the woods, of course, and the books of the different fairy tales are set pieces. Sinn said she cut out the trees with a jigsaw herself. “I still have all my digits,” she added.

Her cast is largely well known among area theatre goers. Charles Brown is the narrator, Barba Couri is Jack’s Mother, Tony Roberts and Mariah Thornton Aberle are the Baker and his Wife, the evil stepsisters are Jillian Risinger and Clare Renee Zell, Mina Vogel is Red Riding Hood, Courtney Swan is the Witch and Dave Schick is the Wolf.

Other performers are Trisha Bagby as Cinderella, Cole Nicholson as Jack, Taylor Elizabeth as Cinderella’s stepmother, Adam Drake as her father and Monica Lin as her mother, Megan Mason is Granny, Kathleen Smith is Rapunzel, Alex Colligan is Rapunzel’s Prince, Andy Corbin is Cinderella’s Prince, Ron Janik is the Steward, Megan Mason and Kelly Jones are Snow White/Sleeping Beauty/Wood Nymphs and Zachary Robertson is Milky White, the cow.

“They all work so well together and we are having fun,” Sinn said.

Show times for “Into The Woods” are 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11 and 2 p.m. on Feb. 5 and 12. Tickets are $19 for adults and $12 for students and may be purchased at

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).