Interviews from The Woods: Inside ‘Into the Woods JR.’ at Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater

Be careful what you wish for! This weekend, Into the Woods JR. opens at the Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater and Children’s Theater, featuring talented students from the tri-state area.

Donovan Yaukey and Caroline Bowers. Photo by Crystal's Candids.
Donovan Yaukey and Caroline Bowers. Photo by Crystal’s Candids.

Into the Woods JR. is Stephen Sondheim’s classic fairy-tale musical mash-up, with the book by James Lapine adapted into a ninety-minute version for young performers. When a Baker and his wife wish for a child, they discover they have been cursed to remain barren by the Witch. To lift the curse, they must retrieve various objects from famous fairy tale characters, including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Jack, from Jack and the Beanstalk. As the fairy tale characters and stories collide, all the characters discover what happens when your wish is granted and what happens after “Happily Ever After.”

Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater and Children’s Theater owners Shawn R. Martin and Laura J. Martin have produced Theatre for Young Audiences shows for the past two years. Theatre for Young Audiences shows typically feature adult actors performing for audiences of children, with teenagers or child actors occasionally participating in the shows. However, Into the Woods JR. is their first Children’s Theater production, featuring a cast of student performers all under the age of 18. The Student performers enjoyed the chance to work in a professional theater setting and take part in the inaugural Children’s Theater production.

Rehearsals are enjoyable because you are always getting to work as an ensemble. You connect with all the cast members and staff and not only do you grow as an actor but as friends” said Amelia Workman, who plays Cinderella. “It is enjoyable getting to put on a show in a professional setting and take a look into the world of professional theater” said Logan Conner, who plays Rapunzel’s Prince.

The most enjoyable aspect about rehearsal is hearing everyone sing their songs and meeting new people” said Andrew Pregartner, who plays the Mysterious Man. “The most enjoyable part about rehearsals is learning about how to use and work on a stage” said Ella Snyder, who plays Narrator 2.

My most enjoyable part of rehearsals is the thrill of seeing the show progressing and getting to work with our amazing cast” said Elliot Wakefield, who plays Cinderella’s Father. “Within this week, I’ve become so close with all of these people. We’ve become like one huge family. There’s nothing better than being with people who love singing and acting as much as I do” said Alexandra Gregory, who plays the Witch. Everyone was there; it was like a big family at all times” added Torrence Brown, who plays the Baker’s Wife.

An incredible feat for the young performers is that they only spent a week rehearsing for the performances this weekend. After learning their material, the campers have a single week of full eight hour days of rehearsal in preparation for the show.

The most difficult part probably comes in the form of allotting time. In a week’s span, you have to learn the motions and the music and everything in between, and then somehow find time to reach the same level of characterization you would in any other show. Sometimes it feels impossible, but the product proves phenomenal” said Christian Witmer, who plays the Baker. “In such a short amount of time, the most challenging part for me is finding our characters and developing them in a way to convey our story to the audience” said Conner.

Everything happens so fast when you only have a week. It’s like day one you’re doing a read through and day three, the show is finished and ready to run through” said Madalyn Johnston, who plays Cinderella’s Stepmother. “The hardest thing to do when learning a musical in a week is trying to retain everything for the next day” said Noah Gross, who plays the Wolf. “It’s a lot of work to get a full musical ready in one week! But somehow we are pushing through!” said Caroline Bowers, who plays Jack’s Mother.

I enjoyed watching the show come together. Learning everything in that short amount of time is hard and with all of the characters, it makes a lot of changes” said Emily Nye, who plays Little Red’s Granny. “There are so many different fairy tales in this show and so many stories happening at once. The show has a lot of words and we have a lot to memorize in a short time” said Emma Allee, who plays Cinderella’s Mother.

Amelia Workman and Torrence Brown. Photo by Crystal's Candids.
Amelia Workman and Torrence Brown. Photo by Crystal’s Candids.

The young cast is very excited to perform Into the Woods JR. for audiences this weekend.

People should see this show because I think they will see how hard we worked. I think younger kids will like this show because it has fun fairy tale characters in a story where they see a whole new side of them. This show is fit for anybody!” said Eliza Gregory, who plays Little Red. “It’s fun and family friendly. You feel like part of the show” said Cadence Brown, who plays Florinda.

“Audience should come see the show because it is a great show to put on for the actors and a great show for the whole family” said Pregartner. “This show is amazing The cast has worked extremely hard to make this come together in such a short time, and I feel that we have done an excellent job” said Gross.

Into the Woods is about dreaming and trying your hardest when things don’t go as planned, which I think everyone can benefit from” said Workman. “The show is really for all ages. You have princesses, princes, witches, and pretty much anything you can imagine! It really teaches the lesson ‘Be careful what you wish for’ ” said Bowers.

Into The Woods JR.
also features Genesis Wilson (Narrator 1), Donovan Yaukey (Jack), Kyle Jacobus (Cinderella’s Prince), Abby Moore (Lucinda), Ally Moore (Rapunzel), and Jacob Wilson as the Steward.


Into the Woods JR. is directed by Laura J. Martin and musically directed by Andrew Baughman.


Into the Woods JR. plays on Saturday, June 18, 2016 at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM, and Sunday, June 19, 2016 at 4:00 PM. at the Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater and Children’s Theater – 44 North Potomac Street, in Hagerstown, MD. Tickets can be purchased at (301) 739-7469 or online.


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