Now, it’s Grimm – as in The Brothers Grimm – as Bronxville High School presents “Into the Woods,” James Lapine’s and Stephen Sondheim’s fractured fairy tale about what happens after “they lived happily ever after.”
The high school auditorium – the district’s only large room not inundated by April’s nor’easter – is home to the musical. Peter Royal, Bronxville’s theatrical guru, says he feels fortunate to have the space at all.
“Every single group thing that happens in the school now happens in this room,” Royal says. “It’s the only room left. The elementary auditorium was wiped out. All four gyms were wiped out. The whole first floor of the elementary school was destroyed, so that was the first thing on the renovation list.”
But this weekend, Royal and his troupe – several of whom spent a couple of weeks in the summer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – will turn the auditorium into a woodsy fairy-tale glade.
And it won’t be just the characters mentioned by Sondheim and Lapine. Taking a page from “Shrek,” Royal is padding his princess quota: adding Snow White and Sleeping Beauty to the script’s Cinderella and Rapunzel.
There are other surprises in store.
“Remember how ‘Shrek’ lives in an area where all the characters live in the same neighborhood?” he says. “This whole room is that neighborhood. The entire room is going to be decorated so that everybody in the house feels like they’re in the woods.”
It all seems in keeping with the off-the-wall sensibility of “Into the Woods,” a three-time Tony-winner (score for Lapine, book for Sondheim, best actress for Joanna Gleason), where Act 1 tells the stories of Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Cinderella and the Baker and His Wife and Act 2 turns them all on their heads.
There is a lesson here to be sure – about responsibility and choices and regret – but there’s a lot of fun, too.
Senior Charlotte Crowley, 17, plays Cinderella, a character she thought she knew.
“At first I just thought she’d be sweet, like the one-dimensional in the books, really nice and talking to birds and everything,” Crowley says.
“But she’s actually a little crazy. She does talk to birds and calls upon them frequently and she has a mental battle in her head about whether she wants to be with the prince or not. She’s been pretending to be someone she’s not.”
“There’s a lot there,” Crowley says. “She’s different all the time. She’s crazy or naive or trying to convince someone to do something or protecting people.”
Sondheim’s music is daunting, she says, and requires diction, much practice and an actorly approach.
“You have to really understand what you’re saying before you can sing it,” Crowley says.
“In the song ‘On the Steps of the Palace,’ the line goes:
“Although how can you know
Who you are till you know
What you want, which you don’t?
So then which do you pick:
Where you’re safe, out of sight,
And yourself, but where everything’s wrong?”
“You really have to break it down and understand what you’re talking about in each line,” Crowley says.
Once she’s got the words, Crowley layers on the notes which, true to Sondheim, come in staccato bursts in some songs and long, wistful phrases in others.
But to fully feel the princess, there will be gowns.
“My first dress is my poor Cinderella dress, but then I have three ball gowns – because I go to three different balls. One of them is silver and gold, with my gold slippers. Then I have a wedding gown, because I get married. Then I have a royal gown for the second act. Then I go back to the dingy one.
“It’s going to be hectic, with costume changes, but I love costumes. When you put one on, it brings on a whole mood.”
And when you put on a musical, it can make people forget, if only for a moment, when things were grim.
Photo by Tania Savayan/The Journal News: Charlotte Crowley as Cinderella at a rehearsal for “Into the Woods” at Bronxville High School.
“Into the Woods”
Where: Bronxville High School, 177 Pondfield Road, Bronxville.
When: 5 p.m.Thursday; 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Tickets: $10. General admission Thursday and Friday. Saturday reserved seating.
With: Emily Bahr, Richard Bastuck, Jack Begert, Sam Benner, Martin Bonventre, Olivia Byrne, Ellie Conlee, Mary Connors, Charlotte Crowley, Stephen Davan, Blair Dawson, Thomas Dawson, Charlie Diserens, Lauren Donovan, Kim Drew, Jennie Drygulski, Kevin Easley, Gina Elliot, Lee Fabiaschi, Alex Favaro, Morgan Firestein Hannah Geiling, Marlaina Grueskin, Lauren Harrington, Hannah Hartwell, George Hider, Will Howard, Chris Janney, Justice Kibbe, Emma Lettiere, Scott MacAllister, Alex Mackintosh, Marianna Manganiello, Annie Massa, Kelly O’Donnell, Kelly Ann Pena, Amanda Rodriguez, Charlie Sorensen, Megan Sullivan, Kyra Toomre, Coco Vonnegut, Kathryn Whitney, Sara Winant, Christie Andersen, Zoe Bent, Stephanie Caruso, Michelle Decicco, John Duke, Nina Goldman, Will Gunn, John Henderson, Kuba Kierlanczyk, Jessica Mack, Kassie Maxeiner, Will McAndrew, Megan McLean, Geena-Renee Moy, Matt Muir, Khendum Namgyal, Cassandra Past, James Petronella, John Ranieri, Lorenzo Seirup, Ariel Stein, Yanaman Surcori, Will Tutrone, Robby Williams, Matt Winter, Morgan Breach, Ellian Choi, Stephen Corvini, Lauren Dawson, Monica Devlin, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Nora Gerson, Greg Hopwood, Rachel Kim, Sue Kulason, Eddie Maher, William Maher, Jack Manley, Masaki Matsuzawa, Lansing Moore, Billy Murphy, Charlotte O’Halloran, Mina Pekovic, Caroline Ruby, Elizabeth Ruby, Jonathan Sturr.