Ashwaubenon HS students perform ‘Into the Woods,’ overcoming difficult challenges along the way

High School Theater

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Travel into the woods with Ashwaubenon High School students as they retell a few tales of classic storybook characters for a limited time this November.

Students are performing Into the Woods in-person at the Ashwaubenon Performing Arts Center on Nov. 19-20, 26-27 at 7:00 p.m., and Nov. 21 at 4:00 p.m. For those who want to step off the beaten path and explore this magical musical, ticket information can be found here.

Amelia Miner, Kennedy Kramer, Bernie Rocheleau

Before their first Saturday performance, Local 5 was able to interview a few members and get their thoughts on how the production has gone so far.

“I love all of the bonds and friendships I have been able to make throughout all of my years in theatre,” explained Amelia Miner, who plays the Witch. “Because we really are just like a family that comes together in the end and I just love that sense of – just coming together as a community to put something on for the community.”

“They are actually pretty darn good at it, too,” chimed in the director, Bernie Rocheleau.

Excitement was buzzing in the air as students started to get ready for the night’s show. “Live theater is back – that’s exciting,” proclaimed Rocheleau. “Great to be able to perform in our space and not just do – you know, we’ve done lots of great shows – but to do one of this complexity and do it well. These kids have put in a lot of hard work and it’s just a tremendous experience with the cast – just being able to do something this difficult.”

“The complexity of each character and their arch of figuring out what they really want and what they really need – like each character has so much meaning put behind them that we really needed to dig into to find out ‘who are we’ and ‘what do we need,” explained Miner.

For Kennedy Kramer, a student playing the Baker’s Wife, the challenge was the music itself. “It’s extremely difficult music,” Kramer said. “Similar words, which makes for hard memorization, difficult time signatures, key signatures, everything about this music is difficult but hopefully, if we’re doing it right, you won’t be able to tell that.”

And Rocheleau says the lighting was no easy task either. “This is a very complicated show to light and so we spent days on getting just the right lighting,” he explained. “And then special effects have been a challenge. Sets. Lots of complexity with sets and effects and all of those things.”

The best part about putting on the show? Miner and Kramer say it’s all about the audience.

“It’s so much easier to put on a show where you have an audience reacting and being able to hear their laughs, can tell when they enjoy it, hear the parts where- they’re obviously sniffling- they’re sad, getting to see and feel the range of emotions you’re being able to put out to our little world,” said Kramer.

“Especially after COVID and all those dark times that we all went through, being able to put something on where we can get the audience to laugh and just enjoy themselves for a little bit and have that momentary distraction from their everyday lives – it’s such a wonderful feeling,” added Miner.

And all three told Local 5 their favorite memories for this production so far.

“I would have to say, one of my favorites is there’s a lot of very fast, very similar words, and there’s bound to be mess-ups within three-four months of practice,” said Kramer. “And we’ve had some funny word slips. That has got to be my favorite. And of course, it all being with your friends just makes it funnier.”

Miner says her favorite memory was their first rehearsal. “We had just gotten our roles and we were reading all the lines for the first time and, even though we had never been together- or practiced together yet- we kina could start to see everything coming together.”

For Rocheleau, he says his was opening night. “Before each performance, I give a little pre-show talk. And I decided to dive into the meaning of Into the Woods on some of the songs and I think it was a very touching moment and I just enjoyed doing it because it’s a very meaningful musical.”

Ashwaubenon High School is also a part of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center Stage program this year, which provides helpful critiques on performances, multiple workshops, and a showcase event in May.

“We are very lucky to have been a part of Center Stage for four years now in our high school careers,” said Kramer, with Miner nodding in agreement. “They present and give us so many wonderful opportunities- through workshops, through the actual Center Stage performance – being able to go to that, being able to participate and work with real experienced Broadway professionals and people who really have so many years of experience and training. And getting to learn so much is very exciting.”

“A lot of the workshops have been zoom kina workshops. We’re really excited to, at some point, get back to the live workshops because you get to then interact with Broadway actors and it’s really a nice moment for these guys – you get to go to the shows, and right after the workshop we go watch them in their shows and it’s a tremendous experience,” Rocheleau added. “Just looking forward to get back to that. We’ve been missing it.”

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