What if you could attend an elaborate off-Broadway musical production without leaving Bryan County? The Richmond Hill High School theater department has been working for months to accomplish just that.That work will culminate this weekend with the presentation of the play "Into the Woods," which is open to the public for a small fee. The shows will have three showing this Friday and Saturday at the Richmond Hill Elementary School auditorium.
"Into the Woods" is a collaboration of the fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm, including Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel. It is based on the book by James Lapine, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
RHHS theater director Jamie Hillen is hoping the play will be the most professional play that RHHS has seen to date and looks to draw a mainstream audience beyond the high school crowd.
"All the characters have wishes that they are trying to make come true," Hillen said. "After they come true, they find out it’s not really all it’s cracked up to be, which leads to the ‘be careful what you wish for’ lesson at the end."
The production is a joint effort between 20 actors, 15 stage crewmen and many others. The RHHS band will be the pit orchestra. A professional sound and lighting crew is coming in from Savannah. It involves the work of many other students as well: Mr. Clayton Koffler’s art class designed the sets, Mrs. Nadia Sprole’s technology class designed the programs, English teacher Jennifer Dobbins is the stage manager and Carver music teacher Gina Hughes is the pianist.
Hillen said the production will cost the department $4,000, and none of it will be funded by the school. The cover charge paid by attendees will go toward recouping those costs.
"It’s a very complicated show. It’s a huge undertaking and the kids have worked very, very hard," Hillen said. "One good thing in this play is there are lots of parts for lots of different students, so all the rolls are very important. There’s not one that is more important than the others."
RHHS actor Emerson Stephens is playing both Cinderella’s prince and the big bad wolf in the production. He said he has enjoyed the arts since he was a kid, and "Into the Woods" is shaping up to be a great play because it touches on "romance, comedy and tragedy as well because a lot of people die in it."
This is the third RHHS play for actress Jennifer Sotomayor, who has previously appeared in "High School Musical" and "Bye Bye Birdie," but she said "Into the Woods" is shaping up to be the best production she’s been involved in. She is playing the role of the witch.
The shows will run Friday, March 27 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 28 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. It will be held at the Richmond Hill Elementary School auditorium. Tickets are $6 for students and senior citizens, $9 for adults. Tickets are currently available at RHHS and will be available at RHES on the days of the show. Call 459-5151 for details.