Tri-State Theater

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

“Into the Woods” - Cast Interview (#5)

    The first weekend is a wrap, but you have three more chances to see the ARTS production of the musical Into the Woods this weekend in Huntington!

   Let’s continue our interviews with the stars of the show! Here’s the lovely and talented Rachel Sanford, who plays the part of a Princess (to be) who has trouble hanging on to her shoes.  

Q: For those who haven't seen it, tell us the story behind Into the Woods.

Rachel: Into the Woods is a musical that combines several classic fairy tales, including Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Cinderella, to name a few. There is also an original tale that helps marry all the others. After Rapunzel is taken from her parents as a baby, the Witch who kidnaps her also places a spell on the baby's family so that the men are barren. Thus brings the now grown brother of Rapunzel into the plot as he and his wife now desperately desire a baby of their own. The Witch informs them the curse may be lifted if they can acquire several items in three days. In their mission to get these items, they meet all sorts of fairy tale characters, who have problems and desires of their own.

Q: So it's more than just children's fairy tales?

Rachel: What is so great about this musical is how we see the characters grow as they learn the difference between getting what they want and getting what they asked for. It is a very poignant musical that touches on many of life's hardest dilemmas. But it is also extremely witty, like all Sondheim musicals. You will find yourself crying in one moment, and then laughing the next.

Q: Tell us about the character you play.

Rachel: I play Cinderella, but she is a little more complex than many garden-variety tales of her. As expected, she longs to go to the ball, but once she is there she discovers that she is not ready for the Prince's advancements. And so she runs. What I love most about playing her is that she is a little quirky in her own way, and the songs are so lovely to sing.

Q: What's your background in theatre?

Rachel: I did a lot of theatre as a teenager at Pikeville High School under my favorite teacher Dan Houston. One summer, I was an intern at the Pioneer Playhouse in Danville, Ky, and the summer after that I attended the Firespark! Summer Drama Camp in Gainesville, Ga. After I graduated, I attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, but I did not finish the program. I still performed a little though at Kentucky Christian University under Dr. Fawn Knight, and in December 2014 I was generously cast as Betty Haynes in White Christmas at the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland, Ky. Since then I have been a company member at ARTS for their 2015 season.

Q: What's your favorite song in the show?

Rachel: There are so many wonderful songs, it's hard to pick just one, but a long time favorite has always been “Agony,” which is a duet between Cinderella's Prince and Rapunzel's Prince, who are played by Mike Murdock and Luke Matlock. It is a hilarious song bemoaning unrequited love and sibling rivalry. Many other great songs include "I Guess This is Goodbye," "Children Will Listen" and "No One is Alone."

Q: What's been the most challenging thing about the show?

Rachel: What is so inspiring about any community theatre group is knowing that everyone involved is doing this in their free time. Everyone in the cast and crew have careers outside of theatre and families to care for, and yet we all put on a show that is (almost) as good as a professional troupe!

Q: Tell us about the talented cast.

Rachel: It would take more room than you'd care to read to brag about everyone in the cast and crew, but I would like to highlight a few. Tiffany Trent does a fantastic job as the Witch, wickedly funny and very touching in her pain. She is so breathtaking to watch, and she really knows how to command a scene. Andrew Serber plays Jack, and he has so much energy on stage! I think everyone would agree though that Mike Murdock is the best at taking a harmless line and turning it into comedy gold. And of course, we all have Bil Neal to thank for his wonderful work as director. He is so encouraging to each of us to find what makes our character unique to us, and I have never worked with a director that trusts his actors' intuitions as much as he.

Q: Why would you recommend this show to our readers?

Rachel: It is a great show, both in how it is written and how it is performed. I am so proud to say I am a part of this and I hope everyone takes the time to watch this version of Into the Woods.

   Thanks, Rachel!

   Into the Woods is presented by Arts Resources for the Tri State (ARTS). The classic musical takes the stage June 26, 27 and 28 at 8 p.m. at the ARTS Renaissance Main Stage at 900 8th Street in Huntington. Tickets are $15 for the show only, $30 for dinner and the show. Reservations are required for dinner - call 304-733-2787.

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