‘Into the Woods’ musical hits J-M stage Nov. 14

Posted 11/8/19

SILER CITY — The classic Broadway musical “Into the Woods” — an epic fairytale about wishes, family and the choices we make — takes the stage at Jordan-Matthews High School in November with …

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‘Into the Woods’ musical hits J-M stage Nov. 14

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Posted

SILER CITY — The classic Broadway musical “Into the Woods” — an epic fairytale about wishes, family and the choices we make — takes the stage at Jordan-Matthews High School in November with a large student cast for three performances only.

Performances at the JM Auditorium are at 7 p.m. on Nov. 14 and 15 and 2 p.m. on Nov. 16. General admission tickets are $5 each and now available online at JMArtsTickets.com.

Remaining tickets will be sold at the door and child care will be provided for the Friday and Saturday performances by student clubs with a suggested donation of $5 per child. No passes — including Chatham County Schools and senior citizens’ passes — can be accepted. Everyone entering the theater, regardless of age, must have a ticket.

“Into the Woods,” by musical theater legends Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, is a cautionary tale warning everyone to be careful what they wish for. The Baker and his wife wish to have a child. Cinderella wishes to attend the King’s Festival. And Jack wishes his cow would give milk. When the Baker and his wife learn they cannot have a child because of a Witch’s curse, the two set off on a journey to break the curse. Everyone’s wish is granted, but the consequences return to haunt them later.

One of Sondheim’s most popular works, the dark comedy received 1988 Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score after its initial Broadway run. Since then, it has been been revived on Broadway, performed around the world and made into a Hollywood blockbuster film starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt and James Corden.

Jordan-Matthews’ production features a huge, 36-member cast — including puppeteers bringing the forest to life with animated trees and larger-than-life characters.

The puppets were designed and created by about 50 JM art students under the guidance of artist Donovan Zimmerman from Paperhand Puppet Intervention. Through an arrangement with JMArts, the Jordan-Matthews Arts Foundation, Zimmerman spent six days this fall at the school, guiding the project and teaching papier-mache technique. The six-day residency was partially funded by a matching grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, through the Chatham Arts Council.

While the dark comedy involves beloved fairytale characters, producer Rose Pate says “Into the Woods” may not be appropriate for younger children. A minimum age of 5-years-old to attend is strongly suggested. Still, she said, it’s a show that will dazzle and connect with audiences.

“This show has everything — humor, glorious music and a real sense of what it means to be human,” Pate said. “Everyone will see familiar emotional situations, from the excitement of a dangerous relationship to the difficulty of letting our children grow up and leave home. This show takes familiar characters everyone knows from fairy tales and fleshes them out into real people with problems we all recognize.”

The musical also represents a significant achievement for the high school actors on stage, said music director Matt Fry, because “Into the Woods” is particularly challenging. “This music is extremely complicated and the kids are doing a super job of getting it right and making it exciting,” he said.

Director Jessica Nunn agreed, pointing out that the challenge is what helps students expand their skills and vision about what they’re capable of accomplishing. “I love that we raise the challenge for the students every year,” she said. “And every year they meet it.”

For Friday and Saturday performances, child care with snacks will be provided by JM’s HOSA and LEO clubs, with adult supervision, at a requested donation of $5 per child. Care will be provided in the JM Media Center, located near the auditorium, so parents will have time to check in with their children during a 15-minute intermission between the two acts.

Other members of the creative team are costume designers Cynthia Bredenberg and Heath Smith, and scenery designer Rahma Mateen-Mason — all veterans of previous JM stage productions.

“Into the Woods” is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.

More information about the production and other arts events scheduled for this season is available online at jmarts.org.

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