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Berthold High School play shows what would happen if you took all the fairytale characters and mixed them together
So what would happen if beloved fairytale characters appeared in each others’ stories?
Broadway in Berthold . . . The cast of the Broadway musical Into the
Woods takes the stage to rehearse the last musical number of Act I, the finale for the Berthold High School performance. The first musical
produced in the school's history will pay at the Sportsmen's Building
on Main Street November 18th, 19th and 20th.
By Caroline Downs
So what would happen if beloved fairytale characters appeared in each others’ stories?
The cast and crew of Berthold Public School’s production of the Broadway musical Into the Woods Act I are eager to show you, onstage live at the Berthold Sportsmen’s Building November 18th, 19th and 20th.
Corbin Dahle, a senior with previous acting experience, is excited to be a part of the school’s first-ever musical production, and he wants the audience to enjoy the plot as it unfolds.
“This takes all the fairytales you heard as a little kid, mixes them together and shows what would happen if the characters all went into the woods at the same time,” he said, listing “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Cinderella,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” and “Rapunzel” as the main stories used. “You have to pay attention to understand it all and get the jokes, but it’s so much fun!”
Walk into the Sportsmen’s Building during a rehearsal, and the sense of fun comes through clearly, whether among the students creating props from papier-mache and paint, the students rigging lights to hang from the ceiling, or the students bustling on- and off-stage, encouraging each other through the songs and spoken lines.
Co-directors Kendra Schillo, who teaches English at Berthold High School, and Dawna Helfrich, the school’s music teacher, sit in front of the stage, focused entirely on the action playing out before them. Schillo holds no script, but assists each character with forgotten lines or personality traits that need to be portrayed. Helfrich operates the music, which will be performed from CDs given that the size of a Class B student population means that anyone who would play in the orchestra for the show is already involved as an actor or actress.
“I still can’t believe we’re doing this,” Schillo said. “It’s more stressful and more rewarding than I ever could have imagined!”
She and Helfrich decided last spring the time had come to expand on the annual junior/senior play, especially with the musical talents demonstrated by so many of the students.
“We chose Into the Woods because of its limited scenery and choreography, and it has a nice-sized cast,” said Helfrich. “Plus, it’s got great music by Stephen Sondheim!”
“We wanted something that not everyone had heard of,” added Schillo, “and something with up-tempo music for the kids.”
The pair decided to stage Act I of the show, which will last nearly 90 minutes. With a larger cast and more demands on a stage crew, the directors opened the try-outs to students in grades 9 through 12, and the response amazed the two teachers. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these kids,” Schillo said. “They’re excited and that makes my job easy.”
“They just do what we ask them to do,” said Helfrich. “With the energy of the kids, they feed off each other, and the older kids lend the experience of acting to the younger ones.”
A few other adults have involved themselves, including Jacque Schaible, 7th and 8th grade instructor, who lends a hand as assistant director and has been focused on the set, the costumes and keeping Helfrich and Schillo organized.
Steve Helfrich used his carpentry skills to design and build a stage specifically tailored to the size and shape of the Sportsmen’s Building.
And Brittna Gregory, a 2008 Berthold High School graduate, volunteers as the set designer after each day on the job as a Trinity Hospital pharmacy tech in Minot. “I like music and when I heard they were doing a musical, I wanted to be a part of it,” she said, adding that she is drawing upon her stage manager experiences from college theatrical productions.
She gestured toward freshly-painted sets and three-dimensional, life-sized trees perched around her. “I can’t wait to see it all up there,” she said. “I’ve got people coming from work to see this. My little sister’s in it, too, which makes it even better.”
Gregory’s little sister and her 27 peers working together to perform Into the Woods are the heart of this production. Emilee Gregory, a junior, made no excuses for her unbridled enthusiasm for the show. “When they announced last spring that we might be doing a musical this year, I was super-excited!” she said. “I’ve always been involved in singing, and I’ve wanted to do a musical for a really long time!”
She plays the role of Jack’s Mother and smiled as she described her part. “I’m the only parent Jack has and I’m not very nice to him,” she said. “I think he’s an idiot, pretty much.”
Other students seemed delighted with their roles as well, whether playing likable or horrible characters. “I am the witch, the ugly, old witch,” said senior Emily Engelhard, who is performing in her third play for Berthold High School. “I think I’m scary, but you can’t take me too seriously.”
She smiled and added, “I’ve always been a little extravagant!”
Like Emily Gregory, Engelhard was happy with the choice of a musical. “A musical is a whole different ballgame,” she said, “but it’s actually easier to learn our lines with the music. And this is funny, not as serious as the plays we’ve done in the past.”
Senior Maroah Foster plays the Baker’s Wife. “My husband is not the brightest bulb in the box,” she explained. “He’s looking for a cow, a cape, some golden hair and a slipper to make a potion to reverse a spell that has made his family unable to have children. Basically, we’re trying to have a kid!”
Her “husband” is played by Nicholas Helfrich, a freshman who admitted acting was something new for him. “I like singing, and I thought this [show] would help me,” he said. “In acting, you get to do a bunch of goofy stuff you don’t get to do in real life. My character is controlling over his wife, but he forgets things easily.”
Sophomore Abby Berg has competed as a member of the school’s speech team, but she didn’t see herself performing in the musical until Schillo asked her to try out for a role. “I am Narrator 1 and I tell the story of the first half,” she said. She described her role as straightforward, but her character does get to crack a few jokes.
Berg agreed with her fellow actors that the musical would entertain crowds of all ages. “It’s hilarious and it’s got a good story,” she said.
“It’s funny and it’s kid-friendly,” added Engelhard.
Into the Woods
cast and crew
Seniors performing in their final Berthold High School production include Emily Engelhard as the Witch, Maroah Foster as the Baker’s Wife, Corbin Dahle as the Mysterious Man, Rylan Brawley and Matthew Block, both as Princes, and Adam Birdsall as Cinderella’s Father.
Juniors taking the stage are Alexandra Gonzalez as Red Riding Hood’s Grandmother, Emilee Gregory as Jack’s Mother, Jordyn Hornberger as Jack, and Elizabeth Nelson as Milky White.
Sophomores making their dramatic debut include Abby Berg as Narrator 1, Rachel Birdsall as Cinderella, Emily Fegley as Florinda, Morgan Hamsher as Cinderella’s Stepmother, Jessi Johnson as Lucinda, Taylor Kunz as Little Red Riding Hood and Bethany Limke as Rapunzel.
Freshmen making an appearance are Austin Kilene as the Steward, Will Burke as the Wolf, Nicholas Helfrich as the Baker, Aislynn Cooper as Cinderella’s Mother, and Shayd Dalen as Narrator 2.
The hard-working stage crew includes Keely Whetham, Royce Brawley, Garrett Dahle, Elizabeth Neshem, Miles Knudsvig and Braydon Lautenschlager, as well as members of the cast.
Remote-controlled fairytale chickens, made with actual, carefully-placed feathers, will be seen onstage as well.
Performances are scheduled on Friday, November 18th, at 1:30 pm for the Berthold students; Saturday, November 19th, at 7:30 pm; and Sunday, November 20th, for a dessert matinee at 3 pm.
Tickets can be purchased at the door for each performance. Proceeds from admission sales will be divided between the school’s drama and music departments.
The student actors hope to fill the seats and share some of their newly-developed Broadway acting, singing and dancing abilities with the audience.
“Everyone in this is having lots of fun, and they’re dedicated,” said Dahle. “It’d be really fun to have everyone come out to watch it!”