Mari Nelson as the witch in Village Theatre’s “Into the Woods” troubles the other characters of the fractured fairy tales. The musical opens Oct. 27 in Everett. (Mark Kitaoka photo)

Mari Nelson as the witch in Village Theatre’s “Into the Woods” troubles the other characters of the fractured fairy tales. The musical opens Oct. 27 in Everett. (Mark Kitaoka photo)

Village Theatre’s ‘Into the Woods’ is a wish come true

The musical is filled with fairy tale characters and Village Theatre’s superb set designs.

What is your great wish?

Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack of beanstalk fame, and a baker who doesn’t know he’s related to Rapunzel with the long tresses, all have big wishes and dreams in Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.”

Thirty years after it first opened on Broadway, Village Theatre brings the musical to life beginning Friday in Everett.

Like the tendrils on Jack’s beanstalk, the fairy tales intertwine. Each character courageously goes into the woods to seek their dreams and desires. They win, they lose and they learn about themselves and about life. Their wishes often intersect, and not always for good.

The original beginning of the Grimm Brothers’ story of Rapunzel involves a baker and his wife. They are childless because of a curse placed on them by a nearby witch, who is exacting revenge on the family after catching the baker’s father in her garden many years ago stealing vegetables, including six “magic” beans. The witch makes the couple a deal, requiring that they gather a number of items for her before she will release them from the spell.

In the meantime, Cinderella wishes to attend the king’s festival, Little Red wishes for bread to take to her grandmother, Jack wants his cow to give milk, and Jack’s mother wishes for gold and so tells her son to go sell the cow.

So off they all go into the woods.

The other “character” in this production is the stage set. Village Theatre’s designers do superb work. The wood — ladders, tree trunks and branches — “grows” on a rugged, hilly, trail-worn setting on the stage floor turntable, where actors run and climb.

The most endearing thing about the production’s woods is that the tree leaves are actually pieces of paper on which children have written their wishes to fly, see an absent parent or become a basketball star.

In Japan, people write hopes on slips of paper and hang them from trees. In England, travelers wedge coins into tree cracks to make wishes. In North America, we put up Christmas wish trees where people can donate toys for children whose families are struggling.

Directed (and choreographed) by Kathryn Van Meter with musical direction by Tim Symons, the musical’s cast includes many Village regulars.

Christine Marie Brown (Mrs. Banks in “Mary Poppins”) is outstanding as the baker’s wife, CT Doescher (“Cloaked”) is the steward, Alexandria Henderson (Lorrell in “Dreamgirls”) is the stepsister Florinda, Eric Polani Jensen (Dad in “Billy Elliot) is the narrator, Jayne Muirhead (“No Way to Treat a Lady”) plays Jack’s mother, Corinna Munter (“In the Heights”) is Cinderella’s mother and Little Red’s granny, Matthew Posner (“Billy Elliot”) is the hilarious Fabio-like prince who asks Rapunzel to let down her hair, Marissa Ryder (“A Proper Place”) is the stepsister Lucinda, the lovely Allison Standley (Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady”) plays Cinderella, and Kevin Vortman (“A Proper Place”) also is funny as the wolf and Cinderella’s prince.

Making their debuts with Village are Molli Corcoran (Seattle Children’s Theatre) as Rapunzel, Trey Ellett (Broadway and TV) as the baker, Cheryse McLeod Lewis (Seattle Opera) as the stepmother, Rafael Molina (Seattle Shakespeare) as Jack, and the delightful Arika Matoba, a recent Pacific Lutheran graduate, as Little Red.

Everybody’s favorite character is the witch, of course, and this time she’s played by the talented Mari Nelson, who studied at the University of Washington and Julliard. She’s performed on Broadway and off, and with nearly all the Seattle theater companies. A shout out here, as well, to the costume designers who made the witch look both beastly and beautiful.

Ultimately, “Into the Woods” is about community, a sentiment dear to the Village family, which has announced that longtime artistic director Steve Tomkins is retiring in May. Tompkins began his career in Seattle in 1972 as a member of The Empty Space Theater. His first production with Village was as the choreographer of “West Side Story” in 1987 and he became its artistic director in 1993. By the end of this season Tomkins will have directed 64 mainstage productions for Village. Longtime Village collaborator Jerry Dixon will take over the job in June.

“Into the Woods”

Oct. 27 through Nov. 19, Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave. For showtimes (no performances Mondays or Tuesdays) and ticket information, go to www.villagetheatre.org/everett or phone 425-257-8600. Season subscriptions are available.

Talk to us

More in Life

Stillwater Creek Vineyard on the Royal Slope looks across at the Saddle Mountains in Washington’s Columbia Basin. (Richard Duval Images)
Royal Slope becomes state’s 15th American Viticultural Area

The area’s elevation and climate make it suitable for growing many varieties of grapes.

Nachos with meatballs features two crowd-pleasers packed as one hearty snack. Pork meatballs are dunked into a chunky salsa and served on cheesy tortilla chips. (Emily Matthews/Post-Gazette/TNS)
Load up the nachos and you’re set for football Sunday

They’re simple enough to make, but the right toppings and technique takes them to a higher level.

Gimmelwald, Switzerland, survives as a farming village because it’s located in a government-designated avalanche zone. (Dreamstime)
Rick Steves: For a true Swiss Alps experience, go to Gimmelwald

Protected by law from the ravages of hotel developers, the village carries on with timeless traditions.

Microwaving the sweet potatoes speeds up this version of vegetable tagine. (Linda Gassenheimer)
Fragrant dish captures the flavors of Moroccan tagine

Unlike traditional tagine, this version doesn’t require hours of cooking 0n the stovetop.

Which subject does your child struggle with most? Have them study that subject first thing in the morning, while they are still fresh. (Jennifer Bardsley)
How to manage distance learning like a pro in 7 easy steps

This mom sees the humor in trying to work from home and play teacher for her kids at Zoom school.

Dr. Paul on cultivating inner peace during a stressful year

Here’s how to reduce the tension we feel from COVID-19, high unemployment, the presidential election, etc.

The Sauk River rushes by near a popular boat launch area close to White Chuck Mountain off the Mountain Loop Highway, just outside of Darrington. (Daniella Beccaria / Herald file)
Outdoors classes and activities around Snohomish County

The listings include Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest updates and REI Lynnwood workshops.

(Loren Drummond)
Before you hit the trail with Fido, train your hiker dog

Some careful prep work can help ensure you and your furry friend have a fabulous time when you hike.

Get to the nursery soon to find some ‘fall color in a can’

Thanks to our hot and dry summer, a selection of plants are already starting to sport their autumn apparel.

Most Read