CYT Northwest Cook to present 'Into the Woods Jr.'

  • Elisha Azcoitia plays the Baker in CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County's production of "Into the Woods Jr." Performances are Feb. 15-24 at Prairie Lakes Theater in Des Plaines.

    Elisha Azcoitia plays the Baker in CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County's production of "Into the Woods Jr." Performances are Feb. 15-24 at Prairie Lakes Theater in Des Plaines. Courtesy of Alysa Clark

  • CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County will present "Into the Woods Jr." Feb. 15-24 at Prairie Lakes Theater in Des Plaines. From left are Jessica Schneider (The Baker's Wife) and Kayla Joyner (Tree Spirit).

    CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County will present "Into the Woods Jr." Feb. 15-24 at Prairie Lakes Theater in Des Plaines. From left are Jessica Schneider (The Baker's Wife) and Kayla Joyner (Tree Spirit). Courtesy of Alysa Clark

  • Andrew Cox and Josh Fermin (The Princes) rehearse a scene from "Into the Woods."

    Andrew Cox and Josh Fermin (The Princes) rehearse a scene from "Into the Woods." Courtesy of Alysa Clark

  • CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County will present "Into the Woods Jr." Feb. 15-24 at Prairie Lakes Theater in Des Plaines. Delaney Marquette plays a deer.

    CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County will present "Into the Woods Jr." Feb. 15-24 at Prairie Lakes Theater in Des Plaines. Delaney Marquette plays a deer. Courtesy of Alysa Clark

 
Submitted by Jennifer Schneider
Updated 2/14/2019 6:40 AM

Life is just a fairy tale when Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's musical comes to life in CYT Chicago of Northwest Cook County's production of "Into the Woods Jr." Performances are Feb. 15-24 at Prairie Lakes Theater, 515 E. Thacker St., Des Plaines.

Tickets are $12-$15 presale and $14-$17 at the door; group, child and senior prices are available. Visit www.cytchicago.org and click on "Shows" or call (847) 516-2298 to purchase tickets.

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The Tony Award-winning musical centers on the story of a baker and his wife who wish to have a child. When they learn that they cannot have a child because of a witch's curse, the two set off on a journey to break the curse. Along the way, they meet a host of characters, all on their own journey through the woods.

"Unlike the other roles in the show, the Bakers are not actually a fairy tale," says Elisha Azcoitia, who plays the Baker. "The Bakers were created by Steven Sondheim to connect all the other fairy tales together in a very coherent manner. The Baker and the Baker's Wife are the glue that holds the entire show together."

The Baker's Wife is played by Jessica Schneider.

"The Baker's Wife is very funny, strong, and independent," Schneider says. "She drives the action of the show because she interacts with all the other characters."

This lyrically rich retelling of the classic Brothers Grimm fables features Cinderella, who wishes to attend the King's festival; Jack, who trades his milkless cow for magic beans and discovers giants in the sky; Little Red Riding Hood, who is on her way to Grandmother's house when she encounters a wolf on the prowl; Rapunzel, who is locked high in her tower by her mother the Witch; and, two handsome princes -- you might even call them "charming." Each of the characters is on a quest, and they all wind up changed forever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Sometimes what is good for us might feel really awful, and we don't understand it until we've gotten through it," says Rachel Waterman, the show's director.

"That is what happens to our characters. They go through challenges and hardships before they have their happy ending."

Because this show is a "junior" version, it has been adapted for length and content. Only the first act of the Broadway musical is performed, and it ends happily for everyone. The characters do learn valuable lessons along the way, like how important it is not just to wish, but to do and rely on each other for help.

"'It Takes Two' is my favorite song, because it has beautiful harmonies," says Azcoitia about the scene where the Baker realizes he needs his wife's help if he's going to break the curse.

With multiple characters crisscrossing through the woods and added fairy tales going on in the background, there is plenty of opportunity for humor, along with serious life lessons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Annalise Panken plays the Witch, a character created by Sondheim as a mash-up of several fairy tale witches.

"It is a very comedic show," she says. "But it balances itself out with very serious moments and tender songs and scenes between characters."

Schneider agrees.

"People should come see 'Into the Woods, Jr.' because it is really funny. There are a lot of jokes and humorous characters. But this show will also challenge your idea of what a villain is and show how society tends to label everyone exactly how it needs to."

With an expanded cast, a lyrical, well-known score, and talented young performers singing classic Sondheim favorites like "Giants in the Sky," "It Takes Two," "Children Will Listen," and "On the Steps of the Palace," audiences are sure to enjoy this magical production.

"It's a show for anybody who loves fairy tales and adventures," says Azcoitia.

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