Marquee: The Little Theatre of Walla Walla presents 'Into the Woods'

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(rapunzels tower) -- Beneath Rapunzel's tower, the witch, Genevieve Baglio, talks with Rapunzel, Sarah Thomson, before convincing her to let her hair down and trying to steal some. Monday, April 26, 2010

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(witch baker wife) -- The witch, Genevieve Baglio, lists all the items needed as the baker, Eric Rhode, and his wife, Richele Loney, try to keep track in hopes that if they bring her everything she needs she will bless them with a child. Monday, April 26, 2010

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(woods cinderella) -- Cinderella, Alexandra Schireman, marvels as a beautiful ball gown magically floats down beneath a large tree in the forest during a scene of "Into the Woods" at The Little Theater of Walla Walla. Monday, April 26, 2010

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(into the woods narrator) -- Lurking in a living room outside the woods, "Into the Woods" narrator Robert G. Randall, leads into a scene as he watches characters on stage for the play. Monday, April 26, 2010

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(wolf red ridinghood) -- The Wolf, Jared Hiscock, courts Little Red Ridinghood, Jami Klicker, in the forest as she attempts to get to grandmother's house during the play "Into the Woods" at The Little Theater of Walla Walla. Monday, April 26, 2010

The cast and crew of The Little Theatre's "Into the Woods" are ready for an audience. After eight weeks of intensive rehearsals, the musical will open 8 p.m. Friday.

"There are a few hiccups, but it's there," said Zach Simonson, who plays Jack. "We're ready."

"Into the Woods," by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, tells the tales of "Jack and the Beanstalk," "Cinderella," "Little Red Riding Hood" and many other classics tied together by the story of a childless baker and his wife who try to reverse a curse placed upon them. However, in this unconventional retelling, "happily ever-after" is never the end of the story.

Husband and wife co-directors Brian and Becky Hatley thought the "huge" musical would not fit on the 22-feet-square stage at The Little Theatre of Walla Walla. But once they conceptualized a set design, they were determined to make it happen.

"Once we knew how to do the set, we switched from thinking it was impossible to possible, and we never looked back," Becky said.

Brian felt it was crucial to keep the tone of the show true to form in spite of the smaller stage.

"We wanted to present all of the scenes and keep it moving and magical," he said. "We wanted to make sure the audience sees the magic of this show."

To fit the various sets onto the small stage, many pieces are on wheels and hinges, and the cast and crew always have to be on their toes.

"We all have to work together," Eric Rohde, who plays the baker, said. "Everything (onstage) is moving, rolling or spinning. We really have to work with the stage crew to make it happen."

The difficult music, written by Sondheim, has presented additional challenges for the cast. During the first two weeks of rehearsal, the actors exclusively worked on music with vocal director Paul Dennis. A seven-piece orchestra led by music directors Glenn and Meredith Mitchell sits backstage and accompanies the actors.

For many in the show, "Into the Woods" has long been one of their all-time favorites, and being in this production has been a dream come true.

"I first saw the musical a year and a half ago," said Jami Klicker, who plays Little Red Riding Hood. "I've been working towards this part ever since."

The cast feels that each character is important in the telling of the complete tale, and the entire ensemble makes the story rich.

"There's a huge arc for all of our characters," Rohde said.

"Everybody has their moment to shine." Klicker said.

A wide range of ages and many local schools are represented in the cast, but everyone has worked well together. With 23 cast members, the depth of talent is striking.

"It's a big cast," said Jared Hiscock, who plays The Wolf. "To find this many people who can sing is amazing."

As opening night nears, the cast and crew feels well prepared and excited to showcase their final product.

"Dozens of people have put in hundreds of hours of work on this show," Brian Hatley said. "This has been a community project."

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