Broadway comes to Berea as Baldwin Wallace presents ‘Into the Woods’




With theaters once again opening up after over a year and a half of darkened stages, theater goers once again are taking their seats. At Baldwin Wallace University's Music Theater Program the pandemic was especially problematic as students who were “waiting in the wings” were forced to stand by as the pandemic ran its course.

With the easing of restrictions stage lights were once again lit in all their glory, masked crowds are again welcomed back to fill the theaters and plans for massive musical theater undertakings have been laid. The powers to be at BWU decided to go big with the phenomenally complex production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into The Woods”.

With so much exceptional talent to choose from the Music Theater Program and rather than limit the cast to the twenty one characters called for in the production it was decided to form two complete companies that would alternate performances. In total, thirty eight actors were chosen to fill the 42 parts between the two casts.

The production boasts an extensive stage set, costuming and live ten piece orchestra and twenty three extremely complex musical numbers. Luckily, Victoria Bussert and her intrepid crew were able to put together an outstanding show that is Broadway worthy.

The show begins as Cinderella, Jack and the Baker and his wife wish that their true desires could be realized. Adapted from the tales by the Brother’s Grimm, Cinderella wants to go to a royal festival to meet the prince, Jack is content living with his pet cow, Buttercup with whom Jack has a problem remembering its gender and the baker and his wife wish for an ancient family curse to be lifted so that they can have children.

The Baker and his wife are visited by their next door neighbor (the Witch) who tells them the reason they are childless (a family curse) but if they gather four ingredients for a potion (a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold) of which each item is tied to Jack, ridinghood, Rapunzel and Cinderella (post festival ball).

Each of the characters interact not only with each other but with various people along the way including Cinderella’s mother, step mother and step sisters (Florinda and Lucinda), two princes, Granny, Jack’s mother, Little Red Riding Hood (aka ridinghood), Rapunzel, the Royal Stewart, the witch, the wolf, the Narrator and the Mysterious Man with cameos by Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.

As the first act draws to a close each of the four main characters has been granted their wishes much to their delight. The second act opens as they soon discover that their wishes are not what they had expected as Cinderella is bored, Jack longs for the giant’s kingdom and the Baker and his wife have to deal with a crying newborn. Added to this mix is the arrival of the dead giant’s widow bent on revenge.

I was able to see the Sunday 2 p.m. matinee show that featured the Prince Cast. Notables from the performance were Claire Marie Miller (Cinderella) for her signing voice and delightful pratfalls, Nicolas Hermick (Jack) for his understated innocence, RhonniRose Mantilla (Witch) for her phenomenal stage presence and Eileen Brady for her over the top Little Red Ridinghood. Special note must be made of the fantastic stage design by Jeff Herrmann.

As mentioned there are two full casts. The Cinderella Cast (November 11th, 13th, 17th 19th and 21st.) consists of Andrew Faria (Baker), Audrey Hare (Baker’s Wife), Camille Brooks (Cinderella), Lauren Senden (Cinderella’s Mother), Dashiell Gregory (Cinderella’s Prince), Savannah Cooper (Florinda), Retta Laumann (Granny/Giant’s Voice), Danny Bó (Jack), Piper Bruce (Jack’s Mother), Katelynn Baughman (Little Red Ridinghood), Sydney Whittenburg (Lucinda), Kyle Clark (Mysterious Man), Sam Nasar (Narrator), Alexa Lopez (Rapunzel), Mike Binderman (Rapunzel’s Prince), Kenna Wilson (Sleeping Beauty), Bella Serrano (Snow White), Kinza Surani (Stepmother), Luke Henson (Stewart), Autumn Key (Witch) and Rocky Moyer (Wolf).

The Prince Cast (November 10th, 12th, 14th, 18th and 20th) consists of Dario Alvarez (Baker), Amelia Beckham (Baker’s Wife), Claire Marie Miller (Cinderella), Lauren Senden (Cinderella’s Mother), Jack Hale (Cinderella’s Prince), Victoria Lurz (Florinda), Retta Laumann (Granny/Giant’s Voice), Nicolas Hermick (Jack), Mia Sorriano (Jack’s Mother), Eileen Brady (Little Red Ridinghood), Sydney Jaye (Lucinda), Rodrigo Torrejon (Mysterious Man), Lee Price (Narrator), Jessi Kirtley (Rapunzel), Makay Johnson (Rapunzel’s Prince), Kenna Wilson (Sleeping Beauty), Bella Serrano (Snow White), Andie Peterson (Stepmother), Keaton Miller (Stewart), RhonniRose Mantilla (Witch) and Jack Borenstein (Wolf).

The show is Directed by Victoria Bussert with Matthew Webb as Music Director. Gregory Daniels is the Choreographer. Jeff Herrmann is the Scenic Designer with Tesia Dugan Benson as Costume Designer. Nicholas Lynch-Voris is the Wig Designer. David Allen Stoughton is the Lighting Designer. The show is produced by Bryan Bowser.

The ten piece live orchestra consists of Matthew Webb (Keyboard 1/Conductor), Chase Kessler (Keyboard 2), Sean Gabriel (Flute/Piccolo), Bettyjeane Quimby (Clarinet), Scott McKee (Trumpet), Aiden Call and Martin Mann (Horns), Evan Kleve (Violin), Daniel Pereira (Cello) and Andrew Pongracz (Percussion).

The Baldwin Wallace University Music Theater Program’s production of Stephan Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” is a Broadway worthy performance that along with the fun carries a serious moral lesson. It is a technically complex show with some of the most challenging songs put forth in a Broadway musical and each one done to perfection. We welcome you back to the stage BWU. Well done!

The Baldwin Wallace University’s Music Theater Program’s production of “Into the Woods” will be on stage November 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st. For more information and tickets go to bw.edu/tickets or call 440-826-2369.

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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.