Be Ready for the Journey! “Into The Woods” At St. Catherine’s in Ringwood

By Spotlight Central. Photos by Love Imagery

“Once upon a time…” there was a community theater group in northern New Jersey that dared to put on a professional-quality production of Stephen Sondheim’s revered, yet demanding, musical, Into the Woods. Directed by Diana Roth-Fili with musical direction by Fabiola Leion-Catalano, the Performing Arts Guild of St. Catherine’s exceptional production of Into the Woods features a cast filled with talented actors and an orchestra of accomplished musicians. It is must-see theater, but it will only be presented for three more performances at St. Catherine’s Parish Center in Ringwood, NJ.

Into the Woods opens with the story’s Narrator (Joe DeSpirito) telling the audience that “once upon a time” there was a Baker (Louis Yorey) and his Wife (Laura Santo) who were warned by a Witch (Kelly Wenz) that they could not have a child because the Witch had placed an evil spell on the Baker’s family.

In order to reverse the Witch’s spell, The Baker heads out into the woods to obtain four magical items the Witch demands he deliver — a “cow as white as milk,” a “cape as red as blood,” a “slipper as pure as gold,” and “hair as yellow as corn.”

In the woods, The Baker and his Wife come upon Jack (James Gerard Russo) who sells them his beloved “cow as white as milk,” for a handful of magic beans.

Also in the woods, The Baker sees Little Red Riding Hood (Nicole Boscarino) on her way to visit her Granny (Marie Cannici). After a scary encounter with a Wolf (Michael Smith), Little Red Riding Hood brandishes a knife she keeps for protection against anyone who might threaten her in her “cape as red as blood.”

Suddenly, the Witch appears before the Baker and reminds him that, in addition to the acquisition of Jack’s cow, he must quickly collect the cape and the other magical objects if he wants her to reverse her evil spell.

After saving Red and Granny from the Wolf, Little Red Riding Hood gives The Baker her cape. The Baker’s Wife tricks Rapunzel (Jessica Albano), locked in a tower by the Witch, into giving her a lock of “hair as yellow as corn.” Soon after, Cinderella meets the Baker’s Wife in the woods and decides to give her a “slipper as pure as gold.”

Meanwhile, Cinderella’s stepsisters, Lucinda (Laura O’Meara) and Florinda (Kristen Rotello), are encouraged by Cinderella’s wicked stepmother (Katie Kennedy) to try on a matching golden slipper which the Prince (Michael Smith-Gallo) and his Steward (Mark Herrmann) found while searching for the mysterious girl who disappeared into the woods following the ball.

After finding the true owner of this second golden slipper, The Prince weds Cinderella (Cassandra Lindeblad), making her a princess. And even though, as retribution for their former cruelty, Cinderella’s stepsisters become blinded by birds at the couple’s wedding, they — along with their stepmother — are now pleased to call themselves members of the royal family.

Likewise, Jack’s Mother (Fran Leonardis) is quite pleased by the newfound wealth her son, Jack, has brought to their family by stealing a golden harp and a hen that lays golden eggs from a Giant, whom he killed after climbing a beanstalk which grew from the magic beans he received from the Baker and his Wife.

Having obtained all four items and reversing the Witch’s evil curse, the Baker and his wife now have a child. What they lack, however, is enough space in their home for their new family.

In reversing the curse, the Witch (Kelly Wenz) ends up exchanging her magical powers for beauty. Still ugly on the inside, however, she proves it to the young family by squashing a bug and swallowing it in front of them in their tiny kitchen.

Moreover, the rest of the villagers come to learn that there is no happy ending for any of them either because there is now a female Giant on the loose seeking revenge for everything she has lost.

Going back into the woods to look for the Giant, The Baker’s Wife experiences a scandalous moment when she encounters royalty in the form of Cinderella’s Prince.

When the Giant (Denise MacLean) makes herself known and demands a human life in exchange for all that’s been taken from her, the characters make the decision to sacrifice the story’s Narrator (Joe DeSpitito) to save their own lives.

No one in the woods seems to know what to do about the still-menacing Giant — not Jack, not Little Red Riding Hood, not Cinderella, and, especially, not the evil Witch.

The villagers come to the realization that in order to create a happily-ever-after ending for everyone, they will need to work together to solve their problems as they once again venture back Into the Woods.

Do the villagers defeat the Giant and save the village?

Do the Baker and his Wife live happily ever after?

And what happens to Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and the rest of our beloved fairy tale characters?

To find out, see St. Catherine’s Performing Arts Guild’s production of Into the Woods. Performances are Friday, Aug. 5, and Saturday, Aug. 6, at 8:00pm and Sunday, Aug. 7, at 2:00pm at St. Catherine’s Parish Center, 112 Erskine Road, in Ringwood, NJ. Tickets are $23.00 for adults, $20 for Students/Seniors, and $12.00 for children 12 and under. Tickets can be ordered in advance by email to tickets@stcpag.org or purchased at the door.

Be ready for the journey!