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Fairy Tale Overload: Little Theatre Takes on Frenetic Musical Featuring Famous Characters

August 3, 2008

By Travina Coleman, Muskogee Phoenix, Okla.

Aug. 3–There will be a convergence of fairy tale characters in the woods.

Shrek won’t be there, but all of the classic characters will be.

In Stephen Sondheim’s musical, “Into the Woods,” many characters are searching to fulfill their own personal goals.

Muskogee Little Theatre is opening their performance of “Into the Woods” at 8 p.m. Friday.

Clay Guiltner of Norman, guest director for the Tony Award winning musical, said the difficulties in the production are mostly with the music.

“The music is difficult to get right,” he said. “The lyrics are very wordy.”

Much like the work Sondheim did in “Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” the lyrics are not only difficult to remember but can be difficult to get out correctly, Guiltner said.

“The tempo of the music is very fast,” he said. “There are going to be challenges with anyone who does one of Sondheim’s musicals. Fortunately, our cast has a lot of experience musically that helped put us ahead of the curve.”

Mary McGrew plays the Baker’s Wife in the musical.

“This is my all-time favorite musical,” she said. “We are constantly running around. The story line is fascinating.”

McGrew said she was drawn to the role because the Baker’s wife is a complex character.

“She is every woman all rolled into one,” she said. “She is devoted to her husband but she is determined to have a child. The only problem is witches cast a spell on the couple to keep them from conceiving. The baker and his wife then have to go on a quest to retrieve four items to undo the spell.”

Guiltner, graduate student of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, is a professional director.

MLT Executive Director Coni Wetz said his work with the cast and crew is “fantastic.”

“Not only has he been great to work with, his wife designed and handmade all the costumes for the production,” Wetz said.

Guiltner said his wife, Erin, went online to research the characters, the time period and the play before making the designs.

“We wanted this show to be unique to Muskogee Little Theatre,” he said. “We wanted to look professional and raise the bar so we put the budget money into the costumes so Muskogee could keep them.”

Guiltner said he hopes Muskogee realizes what they have with MLT, especially after MLT was named Oklahoma’s Community Theatre of the Year.

“There is a lot of talent and resources here in Muskogee,” he said. “I would love for patrons to come away from the show having laughed and cried.”

If you go

WHAT: Muskogee Little Theatre’s “Into the Woods.”

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Aug. 14, 15, 16; and 2 p.m. Aug. 10.

WHERE: Muskogee Little Theatre, Cincinnati and D streets.

TICKETS: $12, adults; $7, students. Tickets available at Soundworld, 683-4901, and the theater box office if available, 30 minutes prior to curtain.

SPONSORS: Cross Telephone and Oklahoma Arts Council.

The cast

–Witch — Peggy Harris.

–Baker — Michael Dunn.

–Baker’s Wife — Mary McGrew.

–Jack (of bean-stalk fame) — Matthew Price.

–Cinderella — Mary Keck.

–Little Red Riding Hood — Haley Jane Pierce.

–Narrator/mystery man — Tim Dunn.

–Rapunzel — Chrissy Lewis.

–Cinderella’s Prince/wolf — Zach Alexander.

–Rapunzel’s Prince — Michael Rappe.

–Jack’s mom — Becky Schofield.

–Cinderella’s mom/granny — Ellen Humphrey.

–Cinderella’s step-mother — Jamie Mackey.

–Lucinda — Amanda Whitchard.

–Florinda — Brittany Mealer.

–Steward — Sterling Spinks.

–Snow White — Jaime Gile.

–Sleeping Beauty — Chelsey Puckett.

–Men’s understudy — Colten Fitzgerald.

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Copyright (c) 2008, Muskogee Phoenix, Okla.

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