Saturday, May 8, 2004

Clever set design turns stage 'Into the Woods'

High School Entertainers

Once upon a time, in a far-off kingdom - well, at Mount Notre Dame High School recently - all the old fairy tales came to life. Stephen Sondheim'senchanting musical Into the Woods is a clever mingling of stories from childhood.

A familiar witch promises to help a baker and his wife have a child, but in return they must bring her four special-potion ingredients. The childless couple must go into the woods to reverse the witch's curse, and they encounter Little Red Riding Hood, Jack the giant killer, Cinderella and Rapunzel.

Jenny Braun played the baker's wife with confidence.

Ben Hunt, as Jack, carried off the dimness and naivete of his character with good humor and a pleasant singing voice. He also established an excellent rapport with his faithful pet cow, Milky White, performed by Katie O'Donnell. O'Donnell added to the charm of the production with her cow bell and big false lashes that accented her cow eyes.

The two princes, portrayed by Steve Greiner and Felix Backherms, maintained an excellent affinity in their comedic song, "Agony."

The stylized set configuration, designed by Clare Strasser, brightened up the sometimes-dark show with bright green tattered scarves dangling from the trees made of 2-by-4s. There was no live orchestra, so the actors were challenged with maintaining perfect timing as well as following the recording.

The Witch, portrayed by Alicia Knollman, reminded the audience that one must be careful of what one teaches a child, for although children may not obey, they still listen.

Valerie Gerlock Fairfield High School

EXCERPTS: Carolyn Toth played Little Red Riding Hood with spunk and determination. Her characterization of the well-known wanderer added an element of child-like ferocity through wide-eyed stares and knowing grins. Her knife-wielding encounters provided a humorous contrast between the character's appearance and stereotype and her actual behavior.

Jonathan Bell St. Xavier High School

There were many standout performances. The rich, clear voice of The Baker (Liam Cronin), for example, was showcased in the second act.

Brooke Rucidlo Turpin High School

Cinderella, played by Liz Rettig, dazzled the audience with her soft, sweet voice.

Lindsay Flick Fairfield High School

The intricate music and difficult harmonies in this show were well-executed by this vocally talented cast. The harmonies and blend of voices were beautiful, making the company numbers a true delight.

Clare Hingsbergen McAuley High School

Visually, the show was very pleasant; a simple and representational set worked very well to depict towers, forests and talking trees. Choreography, done by Katie O'Donnell (who also played the cow, Milky White) was cute and well-executed.

Laura McOsker Loveland High School

Especially during "The Last Midnight," lighting in the show was commendable. During the song, a red light surrounds the witch right before she disappears. Consistently, the difficult light work was done well.

Eileen Tull Indian Hill High School

Angela Bender, as Rapunzel, never once dropped any energy in her delineation of the long haired, helpless romantic trapped in a tower.

Katie Bruestle Fairfield High School

Along with being the set designer, Clare Strasser also designed the costumes and makeup. It was obvious that Strasser plays a key part in this production team.

Nathan Elam Fairfield High School

Alicia Knollman's voice was strong and her acting fit the part perfectly. Her rendition of the song "Last Midnight" was impressive.

Andrew Childers Elder High School

The Greater Cincinnati chapter of Cappies, or Critics and Awards Program, is in its third season, with students writing reviews of other high schools' productions. Today, Mount Notre Dame's "Into The Woods." For information and show schedules, see

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