By JOHN GORALSKI
Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Jack (with his magic beans) walk into the woods. What happens next?
You’ll have to visit Kennedy Middle School over the next couple of days to find out.
The DePaolo-Kennedy middle school drama club is gearing up for a spectacular, star-studded performance, which includes all of your favorite fairytales, along with their supporting characters, for the ensemble musical romp, “Into the Woods.”
“This one’s very different than the plays we’ve done in the past,” said director Chris Palmieri. “It’s not a typical fairytale. It’s very clever. It intertwines a bunch of different fairytales, but there’s a lot really deep themes in the show as well.”
So follow the Baker and his wife into the woods as they wish to start a family. Find out if Cinderella’s wish to attend the King’s Festival comes true. Join Jack in his wish that his cow gives him milk. The community they form, along with Little Red, the Wolf, Rapunzel, and a group of love-struck princes, is sure to entertain you.
Will their wishes come true? Will it be worth the sacrifice?
“It has a great sense of community and how we need to rely on each other,” said Palmieri. “One of the overriding themes is that you need to be sure that what you wish for is what you want because we see some of the consequences.”
Fairytales are nothing new for the middle school drama club. Over its 11 year history, students have tackled a number of fractured fairy tales and time tested classics. They have created challenging sets, perfected familiar songs, performed on-stage magic, and even took flight last fall with “Mary Poppins,” but Palmieri said that “Into the Woods” was one of the most challenging shows they’ve ever embraced.
The play needed more than 100 middle school actors to fill out the cast. Rhythmically, it’s a challenge, but Palmieri said that the kids have stepped up beyond his wildest imagination.
“We wanted to give as many kids as possible a chance to shine. That’s one of the reasons that we selected this show,” he said. “There are a lot of character parts for the kids, and that really allows them to showcase some of their talents.”
With so many intertwining stories, musical numbers, and cast changes, it takes a small army behind the scenes just to pull it off. “Into the Woods” welcomed a crew of more than 50 middle school members, and they’ve been working on weekends since February just to make sure that the production goes off without a hitch.
“They’ve built all the sets. There are kids on hair and makeup crews to help the actors. We have kids helping with the costumes, running the lights, and running the sound with all those microphones. We have kids in charge of props, kids on the stage crew, and moving all those sets around,” said Palmieri. “This play has so many ways to get the kids involved.”
Curtains opened for the premiere on Thursday, March 31, but shows will continue to run on April 1, 2, 7, and 8. Curtains open at 7 p.m. for all performances, and tickets are still available for pre-sale at both middle schools. Tickets will also be available at the door.
“It’s a very clever story, the way the writers combined all these familiar fairy tale stories into one overriding story,” Palmieri said. “The music is catchy. You’ll probably leave the theater humming some of the tunes, and the messages that you can take away from the story are really good.”
Tickets cost $7 for adults and $4 for students. Palmieri said that it is definitely worth the price of admission.
To comment on this story or to contact Observer Editor John Goralski, email him at JGoralski@ SouthingtonObserver.com.
Photos by TAMMI NAUDUS
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