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Danbury, Conn. — Musicals at Richter (MAR), celebrating its 33rd season as the longest-running outdoor theater in Connecticut, kicks off the summer June 16 with “Into the Woods,” James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s epic Tony Award-winning musical take on intertwining fairy tales, fervent wishes and the challenges of life beyond “happily ever after.” Staged on the grounds of the Richter Arts Center in Danbury, performances take place outdoors under the stars Friday through Sunday evenings at 8:30 p.m., with additional specially discounted performances on Thursday, June 22 and 29.

With a clever book by James Lapine and a soaringly beautiful score by Stephen Sondheim, “Into the Woods” takes favorite storybook characters and brings them together to create a new “fractured” fairy tale adventure that is humorous, sophisticated, heartwarming and poignant.

The story follows a baker and his wife who wish to have a child; Cinderella, who wishes to attend the King’s Festival; and Jack, who wishes his cow would give milk. When the baker and his wife learn that they cannot have a child because of a witch’s curse, the two set off on a journey into the forest to reverse the curse. Everyone’s wish is granted, but the consequences of their actions and other unexpected challenges force the characters to re-examine their priorities and deepest desires.

“Into the Woods” premiered on Broadway in 1987, featuring Bernadette Peters as the Witch, and garnered three Tony Awards, including Best Score and Best Book. The 2002 Broadway revival starring Vanessa Williams received the Tony for Best Revival. The critically acclaimed 2014 Disney film version, directed by Rob Marshall, featured a cast including Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Tracey Ullman and Johnny Depp, among others, and was nominated for multiple Academy and Golden Globe awards.

The lush and varied score includes “No One Is Alone,” “I Know Things Now,” “Giants in the Sky,” “It Takes Two,” “Stay With Me,” “Children Will Listen” and the title song.

Directed and choreographed by founding MAR Artistic Director Bradford Blake (Danbury), “Into the Woods” features a cast of talented local performers, including many newcomers and MAR veterans. Tracey Marble (Trumbull) portrays the meddlesome and vindictive Witch; Nathan Mandracchia (Sherman) and Carey Van Hollen (Southbury) are the determined Baker and Baker’s Wife. Betsy Simpson (Wilton) takes on the role of ever-hopeful Cinderella; Tori Vacca (New Windsor, NY) is the feisty Little Red Riding Hood. The beanstalk-climbing Jack is portrayed by Tyler Carey (Ridgefield). Patrick Spaulding (New Fairfield) is featured as Narrator and the Mysterious Man.

Sergio Mandujano (Norwalk) plays Cinderella’s Prince, joined by Stephen Moores (Brookfield) as Rapunzel’s Prince. Beth Bria Salvador (Bethel) is Cinderella’s ambitious stepmother, and Natalie Harde (Brewster, NY) and Emma Giorgio (Ridgefield) are Cinderella’s self-absorbed stepsisters, Florinda and Lucinda. Priscilla Squiers (Danbury) portrays Jack’s long-suffering mother and Cassandra Bielmeier (New Milford) is featured as the tower-dwelling Rapunzel.

Bringing the story to life in multiple roles is a team of narrators, including Will Armstrong (Greenwich), Cathy Cavender (Norwalk), Brian Hinger (New Milford), Juliana Koziol (Sandy Hook), Rob Mayette (Danbury), Rachel Salvador (Bethel) and Daisy Stott (Brookfield).

Heading up the creative team, multitalented director and choreographer Bradford Blake has worked in regional theater for over 30 years as a director, musical director, choreographer, composer, arranger and designer. Most recently, he wrote and directed the critically-acclaimed holiday revue “Wreck the Halls” which returns for a second smash run at Ridgefield Theater Barn this December. He also directed MAR’s 2016 season opener, “Hello, Dolly!”

Blake is joined by prolific musical director and composer Dan Koch (NY), set and lighting designer Jake Liam McGuire (Brewster, NY) and costume coordinator and MAR Artistic Director Lauren Nicole Sherwood (Stamford). Monet Fleming (Danbury) serves as stage manager and Joyce Northrop (Danbury) is producer.

The main stage season also features the classic musical “West Side Story” (July 7-22) and the perennial family favorite “Seussical” (July 28 – August 12). For complete details on Musicals at Richter’s season, daytime Fairy Tale Theater for children and young people’s musical theater workshop offerings, visit www.musicalsatrichter.org.

Main stage musical performances are Friday through Sunday evenings at the Richter Arts Center (next to the Richter Park Golf Course, I-84, Exit 2), 100 Aunt Hack Road, in Danbury. Tickets for “Into the Woods” are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students (with ID), and $10 for children 10 and under. For the additional Thursday performances on June 22 and 29, tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and students and $5 for children 10 and under. Tickets may be purchased through the Musicals at Richter website (www.musicalsatrichter.org) or at the door. Grounds open at 7:15 p.m. for picnicking, with curtain at 8:30 p.m. Group rates are available with advance reservation; chair rentals and soft drink/snack concessions are available on-site.

About Musicals at Richter: Nestled in the hills of Western Connecticut, the Arts Center stage has served as the scenic backdrop for over 75 musicals produced by Musicals at Richter, as well as a professional springboard for hundreds of up-and-coming performers. Musicals at Richter is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization run by volunteers. For further information, visit the website at www.musicalsatrichter.org, leave a message at 203-748-6873 or e-mail info@musicalsatrichter.org.

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