York School of the Arts students head 'Into the Woods'

Staff Writer

In the first high school musical production of the season, the York School of the Arts at Bruton High School will perform “Into the Woods.”

The Stephen Sondheim musical -- which focuses on a childless baker and his wife as they make a deal with a witch for a child, encountering fairy tale characters, mischief and tragedy along the way -- is a challenge to tackle, especially at the high school level, according to Laura Maney, director and production co-coordinator with the York School of the Arts.

“ ‘Into the Woodscan be a real beast of a show to pull off, with the costumes, the sets, and the music,” Maney said. “It was tough, but these kids made it work, and they’ve put together a really impressive production.”

One of the challenges facing any production at the School of the Arts is logistics — since the program takes students from each high school in York County, getting back to Bruton every day for after-school rehearsals can be complicated.

“If we were only working with one school, we would be able to start right after school, but since we have folks traveling from all over, as well as kids who can’t drive yet, coordinating everything presents its own set of challenges,” Maney said. “The kids themselves though are very driven, so they make it work.”

Another challenge that comes from pulling students from a variety of schools is that they must do their shows earlier or later than the other high schools, so they're not competing over the same cast, crew and audience.

But SOA senior Leilani Gantt, who is the show’s stage manager, said that also makes working on shows easier.

“Everybody here is passionate about being here, about working on this show, about attending this school,” Leilani said. “It’s one of the hardest shows I’ve ever done, but we all bonded together and came together to make the show work.”

Junior Samantha Chu, who plays the witch in what is her fifth performance at SOA, agreed the sense of teamwork makes the shows special.

“This is a show that makes you laugh, it makes you cry, and everybody worked hard to make it great,” said Samantha. “Whether it be the long rehearsals or opening night jitters, everybody here wants to be here, and give it everything they had.”

While they’re involved with one show, many of the students already are looking forward to what comes next: auditions for “Clue” are next week, and preparations have begun for next month’s Dance Arts Jubilee and a one-act showcase later this month.

Though for now, Maney said the students deserve to take a bow for all their hard work.

“These kids are so dedicated, I’m so proud of them and the program,” Maney said. “They’ve put together an amazing show, all that’s missing is an amazing audience.”

Want to go?

“Into the Woods” will be performed at Bruton High School at 7 p.m. Feb. 8 and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Feb. 2 and Feb. 9. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students.

Sean CW Korsgaard can be reached at 757-968-1529, by email sean.korsgaard@vagazette.com, and on Twitter @SCWKorsgaard.

Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette