Germantown — Two casts of more than 40 actors from southeastern Wisconsin have taken to the stage in "Into The Woods" as Imagination Theatre of Germantown concludes its seventh season. And neither rendition of the show will be one to miss, according to director Heidi Satler.
"This well-known piece is one recognized in the industry as one with a challenging musical and theatrical score," Satler said. "It's been a lot of fun to see both casts come together and bring the modern classic to life."
Written by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim, the Tony-award winning book and score features a cast of familiar fairy tale names like Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella to teach important lessons about wishes and the choices we make in life. The shows began August 1 and run at various times through Sunday, August 10.
It is the first time the local theatre group will feature two casts, which Satler said was done in an effort to give as many as opportunities as possible to be involved in the production.
"When we started planning this over a year ago," Satler said, "we felt that as a theatre group we want to have as much opportunity as possible for the community to have something wonderful like this they can work on together during the summer."
It was hard not to come together as a team, according to 18-year-old Christian Stevenson, with the insightful philosophical themes as well as long hours of practice required to prepare for a show of this scale.
"There is just so much to this musical that really makes you think," said Stevenson of the young performers cast, which includes actors between the ages of 12 and 18. Starting immediately after auditions a couple of months ago, both casts met a minimum of four hours four times a week, building up to practices almost every day as the opening of the shows approached.
Stevenson recently graduated from Cedarburg High School and said this show, known for its complicated score, helped him prepare for his future as a student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he intends to pursue a degree in music composition and technology this fall.
Not only that, but his role as the Baker brought to life some lessons he plans to see through in his future.
"The Baker plays a role where he really is doing the best he possibly can in life," Stevenson said. "And though he struggles his way through many setbacks, he always has a way of bouncing back."
The nature of the role is a little beyond Stevenson's scope at the age of 18. But he said that's where mentoring and study come into play.
"That's why it has been such a unique experience to watch another person develop the same role," Stevenson said of his adult cast counterpart, Thomas Kamenick. "It is so fun to see how someone else interprets the same character and brings him to life in a completely different way."
It was a two-way street for Kamenick, who said he drew from Stevenson as well.
"It's been so nice to be able to work with some of these talented kids, who have actually taught me a thing or two," said Kamenick, who is an attorney by practice for public interest law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty in Milwaukee. Kamenick, of Saukville, has also enjoyed playing the Baker, from whom he said anyone can draw life experience.
"He always does the wrong thing first and corrects it later," he laughed. "There are so many themes of loss and longing and how getting your wish is never that simple and as straight-forward as you think it should be."
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: Imagination Theatre of Germantown presents Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods"
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, and Saturday, Aug. 2, 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3, 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 and Saturday Aug. 9 (adult performers); 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3 and Friday, Aug. 8, 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9 and Sunday, Aug. 10
WHERE: Lutheran Church of the Living Christ, W156N10660 Pilgrim Road, Germantown
TICKETS: $18, can be ordered online at www.ITOGonline.org, by phone by calling (262) 957-0399, or in person starting a half hour before each show.
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