There’s a lot of “into the woods” in “Into the Woods.”
In the 12-minute prologue to Stephen Sondheim’s fractured fairy-tale musical — on stage at White Plains High School this weekend — the phrase “into the woods” is sung 36 times.
Senior Luke Taylor, 17, plays The Baker.
“The song appears in little fragments throughout the show,” he says. “But the crazy part about Stephen Sondheim — and what makes it so difficult — is that I sing a piece of it at the opening of the second act and he changes the tiniest things, note changes that make it incredibly difficult to memorize.”
But it all makes sense, says Dan Petralia, an 18-year-old senior who plays the dimwitted Jack of beanstalk fame.
“It all corresponds to the changing of the story,” he says. “Everybody’s changing, and the music changes.”
Still, that doesn’t make it easy, says junior Alex Imbrosci, 16, who plays The Baker’s Wife and appreciates the subtle musical connections the composer makes to further the story.
“First, The Baker’s Wife wants a baby. Then she wants more,” Imbrosci says. “And she meets Cinderella’s prince and she wishes her husband was more like the prince.
“Then Sondheim actually phrases some of what the prince sings — the notes — into what The Baker’s Wife sings, which is interesting,” he says.
The precision of Sondheim’s score demands exactitude. Director Penelope Cruz claps her hands and demonstrates how she wants the cast to hold their hands, to shift position, to freeze.
Klara Gribetz, 16, a junior, plays The Witch, a role created by Bernadette Peters.
She says one of the challenges of the score is that there isn’t an instrument in the orchestra that plays the melody.
Petralia agrees, adding that one of the most difficult things to master is to figure out when to start singing.
“Getting into the song took a lot of work — and then not speeding up. Because there are so many lyrics that you tend to go faster.”
Daniela Poppe, a 16-year-old freshman whose voice still carries the accent of her native Austria, plays Cinderella.
“She’s not the typical Cinderella you see in the Disney movies,” Poppe says. “She’s a more real character who thinks realistically and has human problems that we can all relate to.
“That was the challenge,” she says, adding: “It’s very exciting once you get it.”
Taylor says his character — “a common man, a simple baker” — becomes more confident, more aggressive as the show progresses.
“When all is said and done, he realizes he has to change completely if he’s going to save his kingdom from the giant,” Taylor says.
If giants, witches, curses and tricky entrances make it sound like a lot of work, no one is complaining.
Asked if they’re having any fun, four cast members reply in unison: “It’s a blast.”
“Into the Woods” 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4-5; 3 p.m. Feb. 6. White Plains High School, 500 North St., White Plains. $10; $5 for students, seniors. 914-422-2234.
With: David Axelrod, Melodie Badillo, Melissa Cabrero, Isabella DeLisi, Donya Feizbakhsh, Rodolfo Garay, Maddy Gartenberg, Max Golden, Klara Gribetz, Alex Imbrosci, Ty Matsushita, Hannah Matusow, Erin Matusow, Erin McLeod, Dan Petralia, Holly Petre, Garrett Pfisterer, Daniela Poppe, Stephanie Sheehan, Matt Silver, Robin Stieglitz, Griffin Taylor, Luke Taylor, Maci Bianco, Shaina Brady, Avi Bronstein, Kodi Carlson, Emmett Caruso, Jalen Chapman, Hannah Gamiel, Andrew Hall, Chris Keeler, Christine Mann, Matt Miller, Katharine Murphy, Jared Nelson, Annie Oddo, Travis Petre, Mitchell Pozo, Jens Sannerud, Satchel Tangonan, Anna Tiburzi, Erika Noach, Vicki Stangarone, Arielle Adamski, Andrew Baritz, Kiara Barone, Neal Beeken, Clair Cangialosi, Max Cangialosi, Emmett Caruso, Jesse Cole, Vicky Corbalis, Olivia Freeman, Ed Gonzalez, Gillian Griffith, Khalilah Lushiku, Robert Maida, David Mansor, Maggie Moratta, Brendan Oates, Ethan Park, Todd Silber, Sean-Patrick Sosa-Iles, Maria Suarez, Sylvie Zackarone