'Into the Woods Junior' comes to Willimantic

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Willimantic - posted Sun., Feb. 13, 2011
EASTCONN's Capitol Theater Arts Academy student cast for 'Into the Woods Junior' includes: (l-r, front row, kneeling) Sarah Himmelstein, Tony Loukas, Despina Loukas, Abby Bundy, (back row, l-r) Kevin Kissane, Pheylin Prue, Megan Flynn, Addison Beck, Cheyanne Wasel and Andrew Flynn. Missing from the photo are Samantha Dillon and Elise Shangold. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

For talented young people with a yen for the stage, Capitol Theater Arts Academy productions offer an opportunity to shine in a top-notch production, as well as a chance to become involved in many different aspects of the theater.

Abby Bundy, a sixth-grader at Lebanon Middle School, plays the part of Little Red Riding Hood in the upcoming production of “Into the Woods Junior.” This is Bundy’s second Academy production; she was involved in “Oklahoma” this past summer. She said she came back because of the support the program offers.

“When you need help with music or blocking or something, they take time from the rehearsal,” said Bundy. She also appreciates that cast members have an opportunity to be involved in more than just the performance. “We get to help out with set design and costume design,” said Bundy. “I definitely want to keep being involved in the productions.”

Elise Shangold, a seventh-grader from Mansfield Middle School, plays the part of the Baker’s Wife in “Into the Woods Junior.” This is her second Academy production. “It’s really fun, because in most school shows, you don’t get full costume work,” said Shangold. Being measured and fit for costumes, and having a hand in their design, “makes it feel like a real show,” she said.

Sarah Himmelstein, who plays the part of Cinderella, appreciates the program so much that she’s willing to travel from South Windsorto be involved. “I started in ‘High School Musical’ when I was in seventh grade,” said Himmelstein, who is now a sophomore in South Windsor. Despite the fact that her family moved from Lebanon after her first show, “it ended up being really fun, so I just stayed,” Himmelstein said.

“Into the Woods Junior” is an adapted version of Stephen Sondheim’s classic, described in an Academy press release as “a funny and thought-provoking exploration of what happens to fairytale characters after their respective happy endings.”

“Into the Woods Junior” uses “witty dialogue and plotting, laugh-out-loud-funny humor, and an irresistible score to explore the often-surprising relationships that develop among Brothers Grimm fairytale characters as they meet and travel through the woods,” reads the release.

“I was so excited about doing the show,” said Shangold. “I love it because it’s a mix of fairytales. It makes it feel sort of dreamy.”

According to Musical Director Kasia Popovic (who also directs the Windham High School choir), the “Junior” version of the musical is shortened and adapted for the younger set. “They’ve eliminated some of the less pleasant aspects of the original version,” Popovic said.

CTAA is a regional community arts program for young people, ages 3 and up. CTAA offers community classes in dance, music, theater, creative writing, cartooning and more, at the Capitol Theater in downtown Willimantic. To view the entire course catalog, visit the website www.eastconn.org/ctaa. To learn more about the CTAA programming, call CTAA Director Amy Senna at 860-576-4309.

EASTCONN, which administers CTAA, is a public, non-profit Regional Educational Service Center that has been serving the education needs of northeastern Connecticut’s schools and communities since 1980. Learn more at www.eastconn.org.

CTAA students will play the following parts: Despina Loukas, 8, of Mansfield, will play Florinda; Tony Loukas, 9, of Mansfield, will play Jack (of “Beanstalk” fame); Pheylin Prue, 16, of Columbia, plays Rapunzel and Jack’s mother; Kevin Kissane, 15, of Willimantic, plays the Baker and Rapunzel’s Prince; Samantha Dillon, 16, of Willimantic, plays the Narrator and the Mysterious Woman; Addison Beck, 15, of Willimantic, plays the Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince; Elise Shangold, 12, of Storrs, plays the Baker’s Wife; Cheyanne Wasel, 15, of Windham, plays the Witch and Cinderella’s Mother; Sarah Himmelstein, 15, of South Windsor, plays Cinderella; Megan Flynn, 12, of Columbia, plays Cinderella’s Stepmother; Andrew Flynn, 12, of Columbia, plays Cinderella’s Father and the Steward; and Abby Bundy, 11, of Lebanon, plays Little Red Riding Hood.

“Into the Woods Junior” will be performed on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, March 3, 4, and 5, 2011, at 7 p.m., at the Capitol Theater, 896 Main St., in Willimantic. A matinee is scheduled for 2 p.m.on Saturday, March 5.

Regular tickets are $10. Tickets for seniors and children under 12 are $8. Call EASTCONN’s Capitol Theater Box Office at 860-465-5636 to order tickets. Walk-up ticket sales will be available at the box office starting one hour before each performance. Free parking is available on Main Streetand on Walnut Street, adjacent to the theater.

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