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5th Avenue Theatre Premieres 'The Woods'

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Seattleites will step INTO THE WOODS this October as The 5th Avenue Theatre produces the region's professional premiere of Stephen Sondheim's most popular musical. The 5th Avenue has cast some of Seattle's favorite actors in Sondheim's Tony Award-winning fractured fairy tale.

Inspired by the timeless tales of the Brothers Grimm, INTO THE WOODS tells the story of a Baker and his Wife who journey into the woods on a quest to lift a witch's curse. On the way they cross paths with Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Cinderella and a menagerie of other fairy tale characters. They each pursue individual wishes until their stories become entangled in unexpected ways – revealing what happens after "happily ever after." Stephen Sondheim's wickedly witty score weaves a magical spell with such enchanting gems as "Children Will Listen," "Giants In The Sky" and "No One Is Alone."

INTO THE WOODS is one of Sondheim's most family-friendly works, appealing to audiences of all ages. Stephen Sondheim and librettist James Lapine have woven together classic fairy tales in a way that comments on contemporary society. The Daily News describes it as "witty enough to make old stories fresh for adults, lovely enough to enchant youngsters." The 5th Avenue is encouraging families to attend this show with a special ticket price for children; details below.

In 1988, INTO THE WOODS swept the Tony Awards, winning 10 categories, including Best Musical. Time Magazine described it as "the best show yet from the most creative mind in the musical theater today." Among the original Broadway cast was Bernadette Peters, who starred as the Witch; her iconic performance in this role was captured in a 1991 PBS Great Performances broadcast recording of the show. The original Broadway production ran for 764 performances, Sondheim's second-longest running show (behind A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum). It was revived on Broadway in 2002 (starring Vanessa Williams as the Witch) for 279 more performances. Already this year, 800 productions have been mounted around the world. This fall, audiences in Seattle as well as Spain and Paraguay will set out on Sondheim's delightful journey INTO THE WOODS.

With so many unforgettable characters, INTO THE WOODS is a great showcase for a talented ensemble cast. Featured in this new production are some of Seattle's favorite actors. Lisa Estridge (The Buddy Holly Story, Company, Singin' in the Rain) stars as the Witch, Leslie Law (Sweeney Todd, The Sound of Music) as the Baker's Wife, Bob De Dea (The Most Happy Fella) as the Baker, Allen Fitzpatrick (Sweeney Todd, B'way: The Sweet Smell of Success, Off-B'way: Jack's Holiday) as the Narrator, Eric Ankrim (Miss Saigon, Rocky Horror Show) as Jack, Eric Brotherson as Jack's cow Milky White, Elizabeth Arnold (The Sound Of Music) as Jack's Mother, Billie Wildrick (Company, Wonderful Town) as Cinderella, Michael Hunsaker (Off-B'way: Listen To My Heart) as the Wolf/Cinderella's Prince, Cheryl Massey-Peters (My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music) as Cinderella's Mother/the Giant/Granny, Carol Swarbrick (Sweeney Todd, White Christmas, B'way: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) as Cinderella's Stepmother, Krista Severid and Darla Cardwell as Cinderella's Stepsisters, Allen Galli (West Side Story, Anything Goes) as Cinderella's Father, Anne Eisendrath as Rapunzel, Logan Benedict as Rapunzel's Prince, Stephanie Miller as Snow White, Laura Thornquist as Sleeping Beauty, and 10-year-old newcomer Ireland Woods as Little Red Riding Hood.

Director/choreographer Mark Waldrop (5th Avenue: Gypsy, B'Way: Bea Arthur, Just Between Friends) leads Seattle into an enchanted world. Conductor/musical director Ian Eisendrath (Company, Sweeney Todd) brings the bewitching score to life, and set designer Todd Edward Ivins keeps the cast on their toes on a revolving set. Lighting designer Tom Sturge creates a mysterious world of light and shadow. Costume coordinator Lynda Salsbury dresses the cast in gowns fit for a princess and a cape "as red as blood," and hair/make-up designer Mary Pyanowski instantaneously transforms an ugly witch into a beautiful woman.

Families, fairy tale lovers and theater enthusiasts can bring the kids and get a behind-the-scenes look at INTO THE WOODS before it opens at SPOTLIGHT NIGHT on Monday, September 17 from 7 - 8:30 p.m. at The 5th Avenue Theatre. This free event, sponsored by US Bank, will explore how the timeless stories of the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, and Charles Perrault have inspired other writers to adapt and modernize the fairy tales for shows such as INTO THE WOODS, Once Upon A Mattress, and Beauty and the Beast. The 5th Avenue's Adventure Musical Theatre Touring Company will perform a selection from Northwest Bookshelf, and members of the creative team of INTO THE WOODS will discuss bringing this delightful and insightful musical comedy to the stage.

MARK WALDROP (Director/Choreographer) directed Bette Midler's 1999 Divine Miss Millennium tour. Broadway: Bea Arthur, Just Between Friends (2002 Tony Award nomination, Special Theatrical Event). Off-Broadway: Howard Crabtree's When Pigs Fly (1997 Drama Desk and Outer Critic's Circle Awards, OBIE), My Deah, Game Show, Pete 'n' Keely, Listen to My Heart, and Whatnot (Richard Rodgers Production Award). Also in NYC: Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 (City Center Encores), Hey, Love! The Songs of Mary Rodgers, starring Faith Prince (Rainbow & Stars). Regional: Gypsy starring Judy Kaye (5th Avenue), Gypsy starring Betty Buckley, and Romeo and Bernadette (NJ's Paper Mill Playhouse), Joseph…Dreamcoat, Damn Yankees (St. Louis MUNY), and a new adaptation of R&H's Cinderella (Maryland's Olney Theater). He is also an award-winning writer/lyricist.

STEPHEN SONDHEIM (Music & Lyrics) wrote the music and lyrics for Passion (1994), Assassins (1991), Into the Woods (1987), Sunday in the Park With George (1984), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sweeney Todd (1979), Pacific Overtures (1976), The Frogs (1974), A Little Night Music (1973), Follies (1971; revised in London in 1987, Broadway revival in 2001), Company (1970), Anyone Can Whistle (1964) and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), as well as the lyrics for West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959), Do I Hear a Waltz? (1965) and additional lyrics for Candide (1973). Side by Side by Sondheim (1976), Marry Me a Little (1981), You're Gonna Love Tomorrow (1983) and Putting It Together (1993/99) are anthologies of his work. He composed the film scores of Stavisky…(1974), Reds (1981) and songs for Dick Tracy (Academy Award, 1990). He also wrote songs for the television production Evening Primrose (1966), co-authored with Anthony Perkins the film The Last Days of Sheila (1973), and with George Furth, the play Getting Away With Murder (1996). He won Tony Awards for Best Score for a Musical for Passion, Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Follies and Company. All of these shows won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, as did Pacific Overtures and Sunday in the Park With George, the latter also receiving the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Saturday Night (1954), his first professional musical, finally had its New York premiere in 1999 at Second Stage Theatre.

JAMES LAPINE (Book) also collaborated with Stephen Sondheim as both librettist and director on the Broadway productions of Passion (Tony Award) and Sunday in the Park With George (Pulitzer Prize). With William Finn he collaborated on the Off-Broadway shows March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland. He also wrote and directed the plays Table Setting, Twelve Dreams (revived by Lincoln Center Theater), Luck, Pluck & Virtue, The Moment When, and Menken/Schwartz's musical version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame in Berlin. On Broadway he directed and co-conceived Dirty Blonde, the revival of The Diary of Anne Frank, Golden Child, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and The Winter's Tale for the New York Shakespeare Festival. Films: Life with Mikey, Impromptu and Earthly Possessions. -- www.5thavenue.org

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