Meet the Cast of NextStop Theatre Company’s ‘Into the Woods’ Part 6: Suzanne Stanley and Ryan Manning

In between battling witches, wolves, and giants the cast of NextStop Theatre Company’s Into the Woods shared with us their journey of preparing for their roles in this popular Stephen Sondheim musical. In Part 6: Suzanne Stanley and Ryan Manning.

Suzanne Stanley.
Suzanne Stanley.

Joel: Why did you want to be part of this production of Into the Woods? What did you sing at your audition?

Suzanne: NextStop Theatre seemed like a great, up-and-coming company to work for, and I have always loved Into the Woods.

Ryan:I was very excited to be a part of the inaugural season of this new company doing one of my favorite shows.

Who do you play in the show and why did you want to play this character?

Suzanne: I play Rapunzel, which is such a fun role! She gets to sing a beautiful little air in the first act, and then she goes a little crazy in the second.

Ryan Manning.
Ryan Manning.

Ryan: I play the Narrator. I didn’t know that I specifically wanted to play this character, but I’m very excited now that I am.

How do you relate to your character?

.Suzanne: We both love to sing and play with our hair, but the similarities stop there! I, personally, have never had to escape from a tower in order to follow my true love.

Ryan: I think he’s very much the observer and yet also a part of the story. I think we can all relate to the feeling of being on the outside looking in.

Have you appeared in any other productions of Into the Woods and who have you played? If you have played your character before how is this performance similar or different?

Suzanne: I played the Witch in high school, which is a role I will not play again any time soon! Our production is more honest, and the characters, although fanciful, experience problems that are very real.

Ryan: Yes! While I was still in college I did the show at Kensington Arts Theatre. I played Rapunzel’s Prince.

Have you worked with any of your castmates before?
Suzanne: No, because I am new to the D.C. area from Oklahoma City!

Ryan: Yes, I’ve had the pleasure of working with John, Katie, Jacki, Jen, and Blake before.

Which character in the show is most like you and the least like you and why?

Suzanne:  I am most like the Baker’s Wife, because she is very family oriented but still adventurous. I am least like the women of the stepfamily, because I do try not to be so evil.

Ryan: Most like – probably the Baker and least like, probably the Prince.

Tell me about the solos/duets you sing and what we learn about your characters when you sing these songs?

Suzanne: Rapunzel’s theme song tells the audience that she has had lots of time in a tower to practice singing, but apparently too little time to think of another song!

Priscilla Cuellar (The Witch)and Suzanne Stanley (Rapunzel). Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.
Priscilla Cuellar (The Witch)and Suzanne Stanley (Rapunzel). Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studios.

Ryan: I have more to say than to sing…! Just a short bit of singing in the Act One finale.

What do you admire most about your castmates performances?

Suzanne: Many of us have done this show before, but everyone seems to be tackling it with fresh eyes this time around. People are taking chances and exploring the true wants and needs of their characters.

Ryan:  Everyone is very committed and I’m thrilled to be watching them through this rehearsal process.

Sondheim’s lyrics are brilliant in Into the Woods. What are your favorite lyrics that you sing and your favorite lyrics that someone else sings?

Suzanne: Rapunzel sings “Ahhh” exclusively, but I love the lyrics in “Giants in the Sky,” specifically, “And you scramble down and you look below and the world you know begins to grow: The roof, the house, and your mother at the door. The roof, the house, and the world you never thought to explore. And you think of all of the things you’ve seen and you wish that you could live in between, and you’re back again only different than before.” Jack learns, if only for a moment, that you don’t have to go so far to find meaning and answers in life.

Ryan: That someone else sings: Bakers Wife: “You may know what you need, but to get what you want, better see that you keep what you have.”

 What is your favorite song that you don’t sing in the show?

Suzanne: “Moments in the Woods.” Although every character’s story can be grounded in reality, the Baker’s Wife’s story is the MOST real, and the audience gets to listen in on her private thoughts in this funny, sad, and sincere song.

Ryan: “Last Midnight” cause it is high drama and Priscilla {Cuellar] can kill it.

How can audiences in 2014 relate to Into the Woods now?

Suzanne: The characters are ancient, but their challenges are timeless.

Ryan: I think it’s easily relatable for us now and how we view our parents, children, and families, and how those views shape is for the rest of our lives.

Why do you think Into the Woods is still so popular today?

Suzanne: Everyone wants to see the dark side of fluffy fairy tale creatures!

Ryan: The music is brilliant and the story is a classic!

What is the best advice Director Evan Hoffmann and/or Musical Director Elisa Rosman has given you in preparing for your performance?

Suzanne: Be honest.

Ryan:  Don’t play the comedy, and root your performance in the truth of the story.

Why is this production so special?

Suzanne: Many productions of Into the Woods focus solely on getting laughs, and lose the meat of the story. We are striking an unusual balance between humor and heart.

Ryan: It has such a great cast, artistic team telling one of Sondheim’s best.

 What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing Into the Woods?

Suzanne: None of the characters in the show can be taken at face-value, and I hope audience members are able to apply some of that discovery to their own lives.

Ryan: Have fun and tell your friends!!


Into the Woods plays through June 1, 2014 at NextStop Theatre Company at the Industrial Strength Theatre -269 Sunset Park Drive, in Herndon, VA. For tickets, call the box office at (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.

Meet the Cast of NextStop Theatre Company’s ‘Into the Woods’ Part 1: Brittany Martz.

Meet the Cast of NextStop Theatre Company’s ‘Into the Woods’ Part 2: John Loughney.

Meet the Cast of NextStop Theatre Company’s ‘Into the Woods’Part 3: Alizon Reggioli.

Meet the Cast of NextStop Theatre Company’s ‘Into the Woods’Part 4: Katie McManus.

Meet the Cast of NextStop Theatre Company’s ‘Into the Woods’ Part 5: Priscilla Cuellar

Diane Jackson Schnoor’s review of Into the Woods on DCMetroTheaterArts.

Kathy Lee Gifford joins NextStop Theatre Company’s ‘Into the Woods.’




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Joel Markowitz
Joel Markowitz is the Publisher and Editor of DCMetroTheaterArts. He founded the site with his brother Bruce to help promote the vast riches of theatre and the arts in the DC Metro area that includes Maryland, Virginia, and DC theater and music venues, universities, schools, Children's theaters, professional, and community theatres. Joel is an advocate for promoting the 'stars of the future' in his popular 'Scene Stealers' articles. He wrote a column for 5 years called ‘Theatre Schmooze’ and recorded podcast interviews for DC Theatre Scene. His work can also be seen and read on BroadwayStars. Joel also wrote a monthly preview of what was about to open in DC area theatres for BroadwayWorld. He is an avid film and theater goer, and a suffering Buffalo Bills and Sabres fan. Joel was a regular guest on 'The Lunch and Judy Show' radio program starring Judy Stadt in NYC. Joel founded The Ushers Theatre Going Group in the DC area in 1990, which had a 25-year run when it took its final curtain call last year. Joel is a proud member of The American Critics Association.


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