The CM Performing Arts Center’s Main Stage production of INTO THE WOODS is sure to enchant its audiences from September 16-30. Inspired by The Brothers Grimm fairy tales, INTO THE WOODS is an enchanting, brilliant musical that ventures beyond “happily ever after!” What begins as a lively fantasy ends in lessons of responsibility, consequences for our actions, and what we teach our children.
Little Red has strayed far from the path, Jack’s found a second beanstalk, Prince Charming’s eyes are wandering, and there’s a Witch living next door. Stephen Sondheim’s most popular musical takes our favorite storybook characters and turns the world of fairy tales topsy-turvy, reminding us that granted wishes often bring complications. INTO THE WOODS is timeless yet relevant.
The cast will feature Isaiah Baston as JACK, Bryan Bowie as STEWARD, Elizabeth DeGennaro as CINDERELLA’S MOTHER/GRANNY/GIANT, David DiMarzo as RAPUNZEL’S PRINCE, Samantha Free as THE WITCH, Lainee Jentz as LUCINDA, Keith Jones as MILKY WHITE, Sarah Klaum as CINDERELLA’S STEPMOTHER, Michael Krulder as CINDERELLA’S PRINCE/WOLF, Rosemary Kurtz as JACK’S MOTHER, Rebecca Martowski as FLORINDA, Samantha Mena as RAPUNZEL, Andrew Murano as THE BAKER, Hallie Roteman as CINDERELLA, Anna Shiavoni as LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD, Gary Tifeld as NARRATOR/MYSTERIOUS MAN and Emily Walter as THE BAKER’S WIFE.
CMPAC’s very own Director of Educational Theatre Patrick Campbell is set to direct this production, alongside Matthew Surico as Musical Director, Sarah Minto as Choreographer and Stage Manager, and Ronald Green III as Costume Designer.
Guided by the values of excellence, diversity and community, we seek to make a positive contribution to arts-education, culture and the quality of life on Long Island. The Noel S. Ruiz Theatre at CM Performing Arts Center is our handicap accessible Main Stage theater which seats 370 patrons, including a VIP section of raised banquet seats. The theater is located at 931 Montauk Highway, Oakdale, NY 11769.
Alyse Arpino is the Executive Director of CM Performing Arts Center. She is also the foundress of the Performing Arts Program at St. Mary School in East Islip. She has had the unique opportunities of receiving a spot at the Broadway Teachers Workshop for numerous years. She has served as freelance Director and Choreographer in professional Theater, Community Theater and Educational Theater for over 30 years. She is a member of NYSTEA. Alyse has served as a Guest Teaching Arts for a number of students and professional theater conferences. Alyse graduated with honors from Wagner College and earned a Theatre/Speech Degree with a concentration in Musical Theatre and a minor in Psychology. Some of her most exciting achievements include performing on tour and film, being a solo tap performer with Omar Edwards, and directing several productions that were performed in Walt Disney World. Alyse is proud to say she has worked in the theatre community for 30 years. Alyse was one of the proud recipients of the 2022 Power Woman of Long Island Award.
Patrick Campbell is a Long Island based director, actor, and stage manager. He is currently serving as the Director of Educational Theatre at CM Performing Arts Center where he teaches and directs the kids, juniors, and teen productions. Most recently, Patrick served as a Co-Director on CMPAC’s productions of The Prom and A Chorus Line. Past acting credits include The Wizard of Oz (Tinman/Hickory), Twelfth Night (Fabian/Captain). A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Puck/Philostrate), 9 to 5: The Musical (Dick/Tinsworthy), Our Country’s Good (Phillip/Wisehammer), Honk! (Ugly), Romeo and Juliet (Friar Lawrence), Peter and the Starcatcher (Alf), and The Good Person of Szechwan (Wang).
What inspired the choice of Into the Woods for this season at the CM Performing Arts Center?
Alyse: Putting together a season is a fun project but interesting adventure. It is creating the story and life for our theater for the next 6 months. We are a community theater, and our theatre family means a lot to us. I try to think about a number of things when selecting shows. I look for a mix of new and classics. I am influenced by events or topics going on around us and in our community. I think about the patrons that will be attending the theatre and what might have been on Broadway or out of reach for our theatre goers that we can bring to the audiences of Long Island. Into The Woods is a classic. It is a musical that is considered treasure but not often performed. It fit perfectly into our season. It is a beautiful story about family, differences, and struggle. The message of being careful what you wish for and the consequences of our actions. Through fairytale characters that we know and love, it uses classic stories and expresses how everyone is different. How we handle struggles and triumphs differently, one person’s dream is another’s fear. We never know what the other is going through unless we are in their shoes, but we can be there for each other and support each other along the darkest journey! Into the Woods can be enjoyed for its beautiful score and fun fantasy but can also leave you thinking when you leave the theater.
What can audiences expect from this production of Into the Woods at CM Performing Arts Center?
Patrick: Our current production of Into the Woods at CM Performing Arts Center is really focusing on the power of chosen family; finding others in the woods who are also discovering themselves and forging a new family out of that shared experience. Our version of Woods puts an emphasis on the whimsical, fantastical characterizations of fairy tales set against a very real and intimidating forest. Audiences should expect to leave our production with a newfound sense of curiosity, hope, and perhaps a few laughs along the way.
Could you talk a bit about the casting process for this production and the importance of diversity in your cast?
Alyse: We are so lucky to have such amazing talent at CM. The cast of Into the Woods will not disappoint. All are always welcome to audition! CM is a community theater and we believe in doing exactly that, representing the whole community! When we were casting the show we looked for the person who made each character come to life. The person who brought the music and lyrics from their heart. We strive to live our mission of being guided by the values of excellence, diversity and community through being a positive contribution to arts education and the quality of life on Long Island. The CM Performing Arts Center is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion in the casting process and encourages actors of diverse backgrounds and underrepresented groups to audition. All of our auditions are open and posted for anyone to come.
Could you tell us more about the educational aspect of CM Performing Arts Center and how it integrates into productions like Into the Woods?
Patrick: CM Performing Arts Center continuously places education at the forefront of their mission and purpose. Our kids and junior class sessions, our full-length teen productions, and our Broadway Bound intensive programs give an overwhelming number of opportunities for our young artists to develop a solid foundation of theatrical skills that can be applied both on and off the stage. It is essential to note that our education program is focused on using the arts to help develop confidence, empathy, and community amongst our students while providing a safe space for anyone who joins us. Two of our castmates, Dori Ahlgrim (Snow White, Little Red/Stepsisters U/S) and Molly Sanges (Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel U/S), are joining us through our work-study program. Both Molly and Dori are students of CM Performing Arts Center and have gone through our classes and teen programs. They are getting experience as walk-on roles in a main stage production while also understudying some major roles. We have multiple work-study programs such as this intended to help students pay off their class/teen production fees while working directly with staff members and gaining some added offstage work experience. Into the Woods is a story that revolves around these morals and oftentimes pulls them into question. It is about childhood and adulthood all mixed into one, allowing for audience members of ANY age to connect with the timeless stories found within the show.
Why do you think Into the Woods has, of all of Sondheim’s works, had so much staying power and a major following?
Patrick: Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine took great care in crafting a story that connects with people across generations. By using famous fairy tales such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack and the Beanstalk, Sondheim and Lapine were able to take these familiar stories and characters and drop them into unfamiliar new territory. Into the Woods pries open the imagination of those who are experiencing these stories for the first time while challenging the imagination of those who are revisiting it. The story moves past “happily ever after” and exposes our characters and audience members to new and challenging moral dilemmas. This show truly has something for everyone and remains to be a gold-standard of musical theatre.
What have been some of the challenges in preparing for this production of Into The Woods?
Patrick: There are several major challenges we are tasked with in preparing for our production of Into the Woods. There is an abundance of magic to be found within the show that causes our technical production artists to get rather creative and crafty. Because the show is so beloved, we are also tasked with finding a way to deliver the stories that everyone knows and loves while also finding new lenses to view it through. We are incredibly lucky to have a cast and creative team that is inspired and motivated to face these challenges and bring the show to life.
Could you share some upcoming highlights from the rest of the Main Stage season for this year?
Alyse: We are so excited about the rest of our season! The laughs won’t stop with the hilariously fun production of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein with another amazing cast. Then we close out our season with everyone’s favorite Buddy the Elf in Elf the Musical. Another fun, and funny musical full of heart and love of family for the holidays. There is still time to audition for this fun holiday show. Elf auditions will be posted on our website cmpac.com and social media. Check it out now! We would love to see you there!
Why should audiences come and see Into The Woods?
Alyse: Come to Into the Woods to see a beautiful story of love, the power of wishes and the choices we make, both the good and bad told by amazing local actors. Enter a world of fairytale and fantasy accompanied with beautiful music by an amazing live orchestra. Enjoy an escape for a few hours and be swept away from Oakdale to the enchanted woods through amazing sets and costumes. By buying a ticket, you are helping to support the arts, and live theatre on Long Island!