Saturday, January 28, 2023

OPENING: Into the Woods Via Paramount Theatre’s Broadway Series February 1-March 19, 2023


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(from left) Paramount’s Into the Woods is co-directed by multi-Jeff Award-winner and Paramount Artistic Director Jim Corti, and Trent Stork, Paramount’s Associate Artistic Producer, Casting Director, and 2021-22 winner of the Jeff Award for Director-Musical-Large for Paramount’s Kinky Boots

Note: Into the Woods is suggested for ages 12 and up for violence and loud noises. 

Once upon a time…it all started with a wish. 

And sometimes, wishes do come true, because up next in Paramount Theatre’s 2022-23 Broadway Series is Into the WoodsStephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s brilliant reimagining of the Grimm Brothers fairy tales, February 1-March 19, 2023. I'll be out for opening night February 10th, so check back shortly after for my full review.

Venture into the woods with the Baker and his wife on a mystical journey to collect a red cape, a strand of yellow hair, a golden shoe and a white cow to break the spell cast by the Witch. Encounter Little Red Ridinghood searching for bread to feed her grandmother. Join Jack on his adventure up the beanstalk to save his cow Milky White. Attend the King’s festival with Cinderella and her stepsisters. Discover Rapunzel locked away in a high tower. Come experience Into the Woods, but be aware, ever after isn’t always happy. 
Paramount’s staging of one of the most astounding and original fairytale retellings theatre has ever seen will be co-directed by Artistic Director, Jim Corti, and Associate Artistic Producer and Casting Director, Trent Stork. Corti, responsible for Paramount hits like NewsiesThe ProducersSweeney Todd and Les Misérables, remains Chicago’s only theater artist to have won Jeff Awards as an actor, choreographer and director. Stork is still riding high after earning their first Jeff Award for Director-Musical-Large for mega-staging last season of Paramount’s Kinky Boots

It was my great pleasure to sit next to Trent Stork by chance, at the Equity Jeff Awards (AKA: Theatre Prom) in October. It was a highlight of the evening to watch Stork balance on his own pair of Kinky Boots without a stumble, on repeat trips to the stage to accept their accolades. Storks may be traditionally associated with dropping bundles of babies down the chimneys of expectant parents, but this Stork is dropping some seriously stellar talent for Paramount Theatre's Broadway Series and BOLD series. 

If you’ve seen The Little MermaidBeauty and the Beast or Cinderella on Paramount’s stage, then you know the spectacle and extravagance that awaits audiences who come to downtown Aurora for an unforgettable adventure Into the Woods. Paramount Aurora is now the largest subscription based theatre in the nation

Previews start February 1, 2023. Opening Night is Friday, February 10, at 
8 p.m. Performances run through March 19: Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. and 
7 p.m.; Thursdays at 7 p.m.; Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sundays at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. (exception: No 1:30 p.m. matinee on Wednesday, February 1). 

Single tickets are $28 to $79. Three-show 2022-23 subscriptions including Paramount’s current production, The Sound of Music, Into the Woods and School of Rock are still on sale, starting at just $51. For group discounts, contact Melissa Striedl, or 
(630) 723-2461.

Paramount Theatre is located at 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora. For tickets and information, visit, call (630) 896-6666, or stop by the Paramount box office Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Lucy Panush plays Little Red Ridinghood in Into the Woods
February 1-March 19 at Paramount Theatre in downtown Aurora. 
Photo credit for all advance character portraits: Amy Nelson
Paramount’s Into the Woods: Behind the scenes

“Paramount consistently delivers on what is loved about the great shows we select each season and Into the Woods will be no different. We also seem to have a knack for the unexpected – rediscovering what has always been there with a new relevance and emotional impact,” said Jim Corti, co-director, Into the Woods. “For as fantastical as this storytelling is, and however stunning its aesthetic, it’s the humanity of this piece that will linger with you as you travel home. That’s the thing about Sondheim. He’s telling the story of our lives and always beautifully. “

Stephen Schellhardt plays the Baker in Into the Woods

Hannah Fernandes plays Cinderella
Will Koski plays Jack
“This production is packed cover to cover with world class talent. These actors are simply the perfect cast to bring Sondheim’s profound words to life on our stage for our audience,” added Trent Stork, who is co-directing Into the Woods with Corti. “Like our story, however, the opportunity to see them ‘is not a lengthy visitor.’”

Paramount's cast for Into the Woods includes (top, from left) Natalie Weiss (Witch), Larry Yando (Narrator/Mysterious Man), Sarah Bockel (Baker’s Wife), Stephen Schellhardt (Baker), Hannah Fernandes (Cinderella), Will Koski (Jack), (middle) Alex Syiek (Cinderella's Prince/Wolf), Devin DeSantis (Rapunzel's Prince), Lucy Panush (Little Red Ridinghood), Molly Hernández (Rapunzel), Christine Bunuan (Jack's Mother), Stephanie Diaz (Milky White), (bottom) Kelli Harrington (Cinderella’s Stepmother), Landree Fleming (Lucinda), Ann Delaney (Florinda), Dana Tretta (Granny/Cinderella’s Mother/Giant), Dakota Hughes (Steward) and Nnamdi K. Nwankwo (Cinderella’s Father).  

The cast features Natalie Weiss as the Witch. Weiss made her Broadway debut understudying the Menonettes in Everyday Rapture. Other career highlights include swinging the National Tour of Les Misérables and performing in the second National Tour of Wicked (Ensemble, Elphaba u/s). She is featured on the soundtrack for The Greatest Showman and can be heard on the original Broadway cast recording of Dear Evan Hansen. Weiss was also an American Idol Season 4 Semi-Finalist. 
Stephen Schellhardt plays the Baker
Lucy Panush plays Little Red Ridinghood

Will Koski (left) plays Jack and Lucy Panush is 
Little Red Ridinghood 

The cast also features Larry Yando (Narrator/Mysterious Man), Sarah Bockel(Baker’s Wife), Stephen Schellhardt (Baker), Hannah Fernandes (Cinderella), Will Koski (Jack), Alex Syiek (Cinderella's Prince/Wolf), Devin DeSantis(Rapunzel's Prince), Lucy Panush (Little Red Ridinghood), Molly Hernández(Rapunzel), Christine Bunuan (Jack's Mother), Stephanie Diaz (Milky White), Kelli Harrington (Cinderella’s Stepmother), Landree Fleming (Lucinda), Ann Delaney (Florinda), Dana Tretta (Granny/Cinderella’s Mother/Giant), Dakota Hughes (Steward) and Nnamdi K. Nwankwo (Cinderella’s Father). Ensemble members are Grace BobberMarta BadyAlanna ChavezAdam FaneDarian GouldingSophie Grimm and Ryan Stajmiger.

Hannah Fernandes plays Cinderella

Hannah Fernandes (left) plays Cinderella and Stephen Schellhardt 
is the Baker

Will Koski (left) plays Jack and Stephen Schellhardt
is the Baker 

The full production team is Jim Corti and Trent Stork, co-directors; Kasey Alfonso, choreographer; Kory Danielson, music director, supervisor and conductor; Jeffrey D. Kmiec, scenic designer; Jordan Ross, costume designer; José Santiago, lighting designer; Adam Rosenthalsound designer; Paul Deziel, projection designer; Jesse Mooney-Bullock, Puppet Designer; Katie Cordts, wig, hair and makeup designerJesse Gaffney, properties designer; Ethan Deppe, electronic music designer; Cameron Tragesser, associate music director and associate conductor; Jinni Pike, stage manager; Maegan Burnell, assistant stage manager; and Lanita VanderSchaaf, assistant stage manager. 

Rendering of Paramount’s Into the Woods set courtesy set designer Jeffrey D. Kmiec.

Costume renderings for (top, from left) The Baker, Little Red Ridinghood, The Wolf, Jack,
(bottom), Rapunzel, Cinderella and the two Princes by costume designer Jordan Ross.

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