Batavia Players heading 'Into the Woods' this weekend

Oct 30, 2015







BATAVIA — What if Cinderella, Rapunzel and Snow White all found themselves tied up in a story with the likes of The Big Bad Wolf and the giant who lives atop the beanstalk?


It sounds like something you might find on The Disney Channel. But it’s actually the Tony Award-winning musical “Into the Woods.” And it is the latest production for the Batavia Players.


The show, opening tonight at Harvester 56 Theater, is very different from what the group has done in the past, said founder and director Patrick Burk.


“It is based on how fairy tales were written in the early days, only we’ve made them prettier,” Burk said.


The musical was written by James Lapine with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. It opened in 1987 and won three Tony Awards, including Best Score and Best Book. It was later adapted into the 2014 film starring Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, and Johnny Depp.


It is a big costume show, with a cast of 19 playing some 20 fairy tale characters from “Cinderella,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Rapunzel,” “Jack and the Bean Stalk” and “Little Red Riding Hood.”


“I’ve always liked the show, but never thought I’d have an opportunity to do it,” Burk said. “Now, I have such a strong, reliable cast — and you need that for a show like this.”


Last year’s production of “Dracula” also gave him confidence he could pull off a show like “Into the Woods.”


Burk said an intimate show like this is significantly better as a play than a movie on a big screen.


“Here, the audience is so close they can practically touch the actors,” he said. “That certainly adds a lot to it.”


Burk said none of the songs from the play were ever big hits, but people want to perform them for various reasons.


“Anything by Stephen Sondheim is very difficult, and a lot of time was spent in developing the music,” he said. “There may not be much dialogue, but the play is very heavy in music.”


Kathy White is music director, along with a pit orchestra of four.


Cast member Kathy Johns of Stafford is playing the stepmother in “Cinderella,” in only her second play with group in several years. She became involved at the urging of her son Nash, who has been in several, along with his sister Peyton.


Nash was at a community audition four years ago and they needed participants.


“He talked me into auditioning, and I ended up getting a bigger part than he did,” Johns said.


Johns is excited about the costumes, saying they are absolutely beautiful. Costumes are made by Deb Graff of Pembroke, with help from Anthony Giambrone and Amanda Taylor, both of whom are also in the show.


The show opens tonight, with a performance at 7:30 p.m. The Sunday matinee is sold out, but seats are still available for the Friday show at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday shows at 2 and 7:30 p.m.