PdC High School musical a twist on classic fairy tales

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By Correne Martin

“Into the Woods” may not be as well known as some of the musicals of the Prairie du Chien Drama Hawks’ past, but the fairy tales that make up the story are as classic as it can get. Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk are the familiar plots, while the story of The Baker and His Wife will be the thread that intertwines all the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales together.

“Into the Woods,” by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, was actually made into a Disney movie adaptation, starring Meryl Streep, in 2014. But it never rose to the level of recognition some feel it deserved. The musical was also produced on Broadway in the late 1980s.

“It’s funny, but a little dark,” laughed first-year Director Eric Amweg. “By intermission, we get to ‘happily ever after.’ After intermission, a lot of stuff goes awry. It’s like a fairy tale soap opera. Everything does end up the way it’s supposed to end.”

Amweg said this year’s high school musical will have audiences laughing, crying and, at some points, it will “pull at your heart strings.”

“Into the Woods will be performed Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 9-11, in the Prairie du Chien High School Little Theater. All shows are at 7 p.m. The entire play, including intermission, will last nearly 3 hours.

About 20 high school students, including freshmen through seniors, have taken roles in the musical. Amweg said almost all of them hold major roles, and some have several parts. “Everybody’s story ties together,” he noted.

“The kids have gotten really into it. They think it’s cool and fun,” Amweg stated. “This will be the last production in the little theater (before the new, larger auditorium opens).”

“Into the Woods” is offered just one weekend for 2017, Nov. 9-11, with evening shows only. This is because timing became crunched with a late start to the Drama Hawks’ season.

“The kids have been phenomenal. They’re really stepping up into leadership roles,” explained Dale Hanson, co-director. “If we’re working on something, they jump in and ask where they can help.”

Hanson has been leading middle school plays for Prairie du Chien Public Schools for seven years, and he’s seen a number of the district’s young actors grow from that level through high school. He has had some help from Ron Kucko and the students in designing and building backdrops and set pieces.

“There are five big set pieces; they’re all mobile. We have some big, spooky trees, including a tree that has a person in it. Of course we have Raunzel’s tower,” Hanson pointed out. “We’ve gone on YouTube quite often.”

Moving those pieces on and off stage will involve going through the audience this year, as opposed to the back stage door, due to construction happening at the school. Hanson said that means every piece has to be near perfect in terms of 360-degrees of presentation.  

In addition, Lori Frailey is assisting with the production as accompanist.

“Lori is fantastic. Some of the music is so intense, I couldn’t even do it,” Amweg noted.

With the performances being one weekend only, the cast and crew won’t have a final dress rehearsal matinee show for the student body or visitors during the school day. They know they have to be ready come curtain call.

“I think everyone’s nervous but excited. It’s really awesome to watch this group interact,” Amweg added. “I hope the community enjoys it.

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