McCandless' Paragon Studios presents Sondheim's 'Into the Woods'
By Laurie Rees
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
For its first musical production with a largely adult cast, McCandless-based Paragon Studios will present a fractured fairy tale featuring an ambivalent Cinderella, a blood-thirsty Little Red Riding Hood, a Prince Charming with a roving eye and a witch.
Students from the performing-arts school and other actors will perform James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim's Tony Award-winning musical “Into The Woods” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25 and 26 at the Kean Theater, 5847 Meridian Road, Richland Township. Tickets are $11.
The musical is about a baker, his wife and their quest to start a family. The witch next door, however, casts a spell on their house that prevents them from having a baby unless they concoct a potion by gathering a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn and a slipper as pure as gold.
Fortunately, their neighbors are Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Cinderella.
What begins as a fantasy becomes a lesson about community responsibility.
“The tagline of the production is ‘Someone is messing with our fairy tales,'” said Deborah Loffredi Metzger, the owner and director of Paragon Studios. “We take familiar fairy tales and familiar characters, and they all get messed up.”
For 10 years, Paragon Studios has been offering classes in acting, musical theater and voice. The studio has produced at least one musical each year — which always had been a show geared for a cast mostly of children and youths.
“We typically enroll 75 to 100 students per year,” said Loffredi Metzger, of McCandless.
Most students are children and teens, she said, “but in the past couple of years, our adult program has really begun to flourish, growing by leaps and bounds.”
The school has produced stage plays with all-adult casts but no musicals.
The 23-member cast of “Into the Woods” consists of actors ranging in age from 15 to 65.
Madison Engle, a sophomore at Pine-Richland High School and a student at Paragon Studios since 2010, portrays Little Red Riding Hood.
“In this show, Little Red Riding Hood is not the sweet little girl going to granny's,” said Engle, 15, of Pine Township. “No, she's a stressed-out know-it-all.”
Lisa Weismann, 54, of McCandless portrays the mother of Jack, of “Jack and the Beanstalk” fame.
“It's a great show ... especially around Halloween,” she said.
Scott Metzger of McCandless, who works in commercial real estate in downtown Pittsburgh, began taking acting classes at Paragon Studios when he was in college. He portrays the baker in the show.
“This is a very physical, very fast-paced show. It's not your typical musical. It's comedy, it's drama, it's tragedy. It's very cleverly written,” said Metzger, who is Loffredi Metzger's husband.
“ ... I love seeing all the pieces of the puzzle come together — the script, the music, the choreography, sets, costumes, lights. When you do it well, it can be powerful and moving. I think we do that in an amazing way.”
Laurie Rees is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
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