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N.C. Theatre’s Into the Woods Stars Broadway’s Laurel Harris and Jacquelyn Piro Donovan Oct. 20-25

Jamison Stern, Raleigh native Laurel Harris (center), and Jacquelyn Piro Donovan star as the Baker and his Wife and the Witch who laid a curse of barrenness on them (photo by Curtis Scott Brown)

Jamison Stern, Raleigh native Laurel Harris (center), and Jacquelyn Piro Donovan star as the Baker and his Wife and the Witch who laid a curse of barrenness on them (all photos by Curtis Scott Brown)

The North Carolina Theatre‘s gala, home-grown production of Into the Woods, which will run Oct. 20-25 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, stars Broadway veterans Laurel Harris and Jacquelyn Piro Donovan as the barren Baker’s Wife and the old humpbacked Witch who, years ago, cursed her husband to endure a childless marriage. The Triangle’s foremost producer of Broadway musical revivals has assembled an all-star cast to perform this fractured fairy tale, under the guidance of Newark, NJ-born director and choreographer James Brennan.

According to the North Carolina Theatre:

Into the Woods was written by James Lapine, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The musical tells a story of a childless baker and his wife who endeavor to lift their family curse by journeying into the woods, where they encounter Rapunzel (and her witchly ‘mother’), Cinderella, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), Little Red Riding Hood, and other classic fairy-tale characters, and they all must learn the responsibility that comes with getting what you want….

“The original production of Into the Woods debuted in San Diego at the Old Globe Theatre in 1986 and premiered on Broadway on Nov. 5, 1987, where it went on to win several [1988] Tony Awards®, including Best Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a Musical [Joanna Gleason as the Baker’s Wife]. The musical has since been produced many times in the West End, National Tours, Anniversary Concerts, and a 2002 Broadway revival, which [won] a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical. The film adaption of the musical was released in 2014 [and] receiv[ed more than] three Academy Award® and Golden Globe nominations.

Abby Church (center), Ashley Adamek (left), and Kinsland Howell star as Cinderella and her Stepsisters (photo by Curtis Scott Brown)

Abby Church (center), Ashley Adamek (left), and Kinsland Howell star as Cinderella and her Stepsisters

Also according to the North Carolina Theatre:

“[NCT] is thrilled that Jacquelyn Piro Donovan, Broadway and North Carolina Theatre veteran, will return home to play the role of the Witch in North Carolina Theatre‘s production, the role made famous by Meryl Streep in the 2014 movie. Donovan’s Broadway credits include Les Misérables and Miss Saigon. She also starred in the title role in [NCT’s] Hello, Dolly!. She most recently appeared as the Wicked Witch of the West in the National Tour of The Wizard of Oz.

“Laurel Harris has been cast as the Baker’s Wife, returning to her hometown of Raleigh after starring as Elphaba in the Wicked Broadway National Tour that came to Durham this past January. Before Wicked, Harris performed in the Broadway production of Evita, as the main understudy for the title role.

Jennifer Cody, known for her Broadway credits in A Christmas Story, The Pajama Game, Taboo, Urinetown the Musical, and others, will be joining the cast as Little Red Riding Hood. Newly stepping into the role of the Baker will be Jamison Stern. He most recently starred Albin in Goodspeed Opera House’s La Cage aux Folles. Other credits include: By Jeeves on Broadway and National Tours of Beauty & the Beast and Little Shop of Horrors. The role of Jack will be played by Jeremy Morse, currently originating the role of Ogie in the new Sara Bareilles musical Waitress at the American Repertory Theatre in Boston.

Jennifer Cody and Nathaniel Hackmann star as Little Red Riding Hood and the big bad Wolf (photo by Curtis Scott Brown)

Jennifer Cody and Nathaniel Hackmann star as Little Red Riding Hood and the big bad Wolf

“Six-show Broadway veteran and [NCT] favorite Dirk Lumbard will be playing the role of the Narrator/Mysterious Man, which makes Into the Woods his eighth production with the North Carolina Theatre. Also appearing is Broadway’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’s Abby Church as Cinderella and Nathaniel Hackmann as Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf[. Hackmann] was most recently seen in Broadway’s Les Misérables as Jean Valjean.

“Rounding out the cast is Jeff Aguiar (Steward), Ashley Adamek (Stepsister), Pauline Cobrda (Jack’s Mother), Kinsland Howell (Stepsister), Christine Hunter (The Stepmother), Lisa Jolley (Cinderella’s Mother/Granny/Giant), Emily Leonard (Rapunzel), Ben Michael (Rapunzel’s Prince), Lauren Satterwhite (Sleeping Beauty/Milky White) and Emily Thomas (Snow White/Milky White). Also appearing as the Baker and Baker’s Wife’s baby (doll) is internet sensation and Into the Woods alum, Baby Twan.

“‘We are very excited about the blend of top-notch Broadway talent and returning North Carolina Theatre veterans we were able to assemble for this production of Sondheim’s epic fairy tale musical,’ said producer Carolee Baxter. ‘Audiences will be awed by the powerful yet believable characters beautifully brought to life by this fabulous cast and find that they too will be transported to a land far, far away.’

Ben Michael (left) and Nathaniel Hackmann star as Rapunzel's Prince and Cinderella's Prince (photo by Curtis Scott Brown)

Ben Michael (left) and Nathaniel Hackmann star as Rapunzel’s Prince and Cinderella’s Prince

Into the Woods will be directed and choreographed by James Brennan, who has set shows for theaters nationwide, including The Cape Playhouse and Riverside Theatre. Brennan has also performed on Broadway in nine shows, including Crazy for You, Me and My Girl, and 42nd Street.

“The show will be under musical direction by Edward G. ‘Eddy’ Robinson, who has conducted and musically directed over 10 shows at the North Carolina Theatre, including Les Misérables, Cats, The Drowsy Chaperone, Legally Blonde, and Hello, Dolly! Robinson’s work also includes associate conductor with the Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular!”

In addition to Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage (Sept. 8-13) and Into the Woods (Oct. 20-25), the North Carolina Theatre‘s 2015-16 season includes Ragtime (Jan. 12-17 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium), Grease (Feb. 9-14 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium), Wit (April 29-May 8 in A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater), and Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins (July 26-31 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium). The touring production of Once (Dec. 1-6), presented by Broadway Series South in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, is also included in NCT’s 2015-16 season.

Jacquelyn Piro Donovan (left) and Emily Leonard star as the Witch and Rapunzel (photo by Curtis Scott Brown)

Jacquelyn Piro Donovan (left) and Emily Leonard star as the Witch and Rapunzel

SECOND OPINION: Oct. 17th Raleigh, NC News & Observer interview with Laurel Harris, conducted by Roy C. Dicks:; Oct. 16th Raleigh, NC ArtsNow preview by Mike Williams: and Oct. 14th interview with Emily Leonard, conducted by Melissa Howsam:; Oct. 16th Raleigh, NC Garner Cleveland Record preview by Tim Stevens:; and Oct. 15th Raleigh, NC WNCN interview with the Baker and the Baker’s Wife (played by Jamison Stern and Laurel Harris), conducted by Valonda Calloway and Alex Butler for “My Carolina Today”:

The North Carolina Theatre presents INTO THE WOODS at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20-23, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 and 25 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $25.14-$114.14.


NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or

Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or

GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6941, ext. 6949;; or

SHOW:,, and

PRESENTER:,,,, and

2015-16 SEASON:

NCT BLOG (Stage Notes):

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NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24th, performance.


Into the Woods (1987 Broadway and 1990 West End musical): (Music Theatre International), (Stephen Sondheim Reference Guide), (James Lapine web page), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

Script: (Google Books).

Study Guide: (Utah Shakespeare Festival).

Stephen Sondheim (New York City-born composer and lyricist, born 1930): (Stephen Sondheim Society), (Stephen Sondheim Reference Guide), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

James Lapine (Mansfield, OH-born playwright and director, born 1949): (official website), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

James Brennan (Newark, NJ-born director and choreographer): (Internet Broadway Database) and (Facebook page).


Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)

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Categorised in: Features, Lead Story, Theatre Feature