reviewed by Adam Crowe

This week, while Ken is defending Scotland up in Noblesville, I had the good fortune of attending the final production of the 2019 Season of Summer Stock Stage (SSS). While improvements are being made to the company’s usual home at Park Tudor, SSS has spent this summer at various locations. The season closer, performed at Marian University, is a beautiful production of James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s brilliant deconstruction of the Brothers Grimm, Into The Woods.

Summer Stock Stage is a program dedicated to the talents of Central Indiana’s teenage performers. Students from over a dozen high schools around central Indiana have been gathered to perform an intricate and demanding musical that takes numerous familiar storybook characters and forces them to face what happens after Happily Ever After.

The cast of Summer Stock Stage’s production of “Into the Woods”

Director Constance Macy has gotten terrific performances from her student cast. Into the Woods may be concerned with famous characters from children’s literature, but the script and music are NOT child’s play. Broadway casts have included the likes of Bernadette Peters and Vanessa Williams, and every role is quite demanding. SSS has succeeded in meeting the rigorous challenges posed by this modern classic of musical theater.

Cora Lucas (center) as Cinderella in Summer Stock Stage’s production of “Into the Woods”

The large cast adroitly lays out the stories of a Baker and his Wife, Jack and his Mother, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and their respective Princes, and the attendant people in their lives (and stories). While all seems to end “happily ever after” at the close of Act One, Act Two delves into consequences, doing so with some dark twists. Johnny Miller and Abby Anderson are the Baker and his wife. Julia Murphy and Mallory McKeeman are the Witch and her charge, Rapunzel. Michael Krauter plays cow loving Jack, with Elly Burke as his long suffering Mother. Amelia Wray plays Red Ridinghood, with Cora Lucas as Cinderella. All are fantastic. Equally great are the remaining performers, especially the Princes of Jacob Crow, Nate Schlabach. Every single cast member gets a chance to shine, and as a whole, they are more than up to the task presented by this vocally complex piece of theater.

Amelia Wray (right) plays Red Ridnghood in Summer Stock Stage’s production of “Into the Woods”

Scenic Designer Kyle Ragsdale’s set and Quentin James’ lighting are both breathtaking. Music Director Jeanne Bowling’s orchestra is first rate, as are the costumes by Jason Gill. Local geniuses Zach Rosing (sound design) and Mariel Greenlee (choreography) complete the top notch production team.

As I mentioned, Act Two ponders the consequences of wishes coming true. Director Macy and her creative team have made some especially bold choices in this Act. The result is a unique and powerful take on the show’s message about choices, wishes and children. SSS Artistic Director Emily Ristine Holloway should be very proud!

A scene from Summer Stock Stage’s production of “Into the Woods” featuring Kyle Ragsdale’s set design and Quentin James’ lighting design.-

Into The Woods only runs this weekend. It closes Sunday the 28th. Are you seeing my point? GET THOSE TICKETS! I expect all remaining performances to sell-out! Into The Woods displays the marvelous talents of dozens of this area’s most talented young performers. Don’t let this weekend pass you by without experiencing it!

Summer Stock Stage is performing on Marian University’s Mainstage, located on the campus on Cold Spring Road. Tickets may be purchased by visiting the website at summerstockstage.com Tickets are only $20.00, and revenues support high caliber arts education in Central Indiana.  

  • photos by Michael Camp