Anyone attending the Lynbrook High School Drama Club’s production of Steven Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” on the weekend of Nov. 16 would find it hard to believe that the cast had missed nearly two weeks of crucial rehearsal time right before the show.
When Hurricane Sandy swept through Nassau County on Oct. 29-30, it displaced hundreds of residents, leaving many without power and closing Lynbrook Public Schools for a record 10 days. But Sandy’s wrath was no match for Lynbrook students and staff, as everyone pulled together under the guidance of director Kevin Harrington, vocal director Barry Wyner and orchestral director Joseph Pallotta to pull off a polished performance of this musically and theatrically challenging classic. The Woods became a colorful character in the story through the art direction of Michael Kunz, the set construction of Tom Wolber and the lighting design of Glen Davis. Annie Pasqua was the assistant vocal director, Barbara Kirby served as the costume director and sound designs were handled by Wireless Sounds.
Through a clever plot that sends the Baker (Zack Zaromatidis) and his wife (Emma Harrington) on a search for four items to break a witch’s spell, the show takes audiences deep into the woods to revisit four classic fairy tales, each with an insightful new twist. Many years ago, the Witch (Zoe Daniels) had cursed the Baker with childlessness, but gave him a chance to break the spell if he could bring her a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, a hair as yellow as corn and a slipper as pure as gold. As they go into the woods to complete their quest, the Baker and his wife cross paths with Jack (Matt Paris) and his white cow, Red Riding Hood (Melissa Schepers) with her cape as red as blood, Rapunzel (Leah Elefante) whose hair is as yellow as corn, and Cinderella (Natasha Lubcenko) with a slipper as pure as gold.
Other lead roles were played by Maggie Neal as the Narrator, Christopher Bilello as the Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince, Robert Haberman as the Steward, Alexa Zaromatidis as Cinderella’s Stepmother, Nicole Bien and Christina DiCosimo as the Stepsisters, Angela Schickling as Jack’s Mother, Chelsea Campanile and Thomas Donaldson as Cinderella’s Mother and Father, Kevin Simon as Rapunzel’s Prince and Tyler Walsh as Mysterious Man. The Grandmother and the voice of the Giant were played by Maria Ciaccio.
As the first act comes to a close, by begging, stealing and conniving the Baker and his wife have managed to bring the witch the four items she demanded—and in the process the wishes of all the fairy tale characters have come to be granted. But, as the old saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for.” As the second act tumultuously unfolds, the Baker and company are forced to face the consequences of their actions. In the end they finally realize that it is only through cooperation that they all can achieve true happiness.
In light of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the varied and complex life lessons presented through Sondheim’s stirring lyrics and James Lapine’s clever book gave these young actors many themes to wrap their heads and hearts around. And in the process, they moved their audiences to think more deeply about their own life journeys.
“The lyrics of ‘No One Is Alone’ are so relevant to the tumultuous events of the last three months, as people reached out in such a generous way to assist their neighbors,” said Harrington in his director’s message on the inside cover of the program. “And of course, the passing of our good friend Dr. B [ex-Superintendent of Lynbrook Public Schools Dr. Santo Barbarino]. Although he is not with us physically, I know that he is with us spiritually and loving every minute of this show. I am sure that he is beaming with pride as he watches the talented cast, crew and musicians perform. As Sondheim wrote, ‘Sometimes people leave you halfway through the wood. Do not let it grieve you. No one leaves for good.’”