• Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Bay Ridge turns fantastical.

Narrows Community Theater (NCT) is once again bringing the goods to the neighborhood as it presents the classic musical “Into the Woods,” which features music by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine.

In the show, a baker and his wife are childless, cursed by a once-beautiful witch. In addition, the show features several classic fantasy characters — Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, the Big Bad Wolf, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and more — that each have a wish to use. But the old adage of ‘Be careful what you wish for’ comes into play.

Director Leah Zepel was eager to put her stamp on one of her favorite productions.

“It’s just a wonderfully conceived show,” she enthused. “I had done a production of it when I was in high school when it was still a fairly new show and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.”

Wishes include Cinderella wanting to go to the ball, and Rapunzel wanting to get out of the tower. “They all get their wishes and we get to see what happens to them after their wishes have been granted,” she said. “What it shows is that wishes can be granted but life is never easy or perfect. It continues to move on even after your happily ever after has begun. It’s really that all hell breaks loose which happens in the show.”

Zepel believes the themes of the story are especially relevant in today’s society.

“It’s absolutely important, especially with all the turmoil Americans are living in right now with half of the country pitted against the other half of the country politically,” she explained. “It is a story of family, finding love, whatever that means to you. Every character is different. It’s the story of loyalty and responsibility. The characters have to grow.”

She also loves the show’s timeless themes.

“It’s more about the things that we wish for are the things that push us towards the rest of our lives and those are our growing moments, when things don’t work out the way you want them to,” she said. “Nothing ever works out the exact way you want it to.”

The adaptation features a narrator and there’s a moment where the characters have to start taking responsibility for themselves.

“They can’t really rely on the narrator anymore and they have to start making their own decisions,” Zepel said. “It’s such an interesting concept in the world we are living in now, the idea of personal responsibility and the responsibility of people around you who need to be taken care of. Each character has a wish and some of them should rethink what they are wishing for. How do you respond when things don’t go as planned and life smacks you in the head, how do you continue on?”

Audiences can look forward to a stellar cast that consists of skilled actors of all ages.

‘Our group and cast is ridiculously amazing. They’re so talented,” the proud director said. “My job has been so much easier than I expected it to be.”

Zepel described the show as difficult musically but thanks to musical director Jacob Patorti, rehearsals have gone seamlessly.

“There are pages and pages of music the cast had to learn,” she explained. “It has all these difficult harmonies, complicated song structures and the story doesn’t have one star. It is a true ensemble piece and for a director is difficult to manage. You have to tell everybody’s story equally, not focus too much on one thing. I was anticipating it to be a challenge and it is, but the cast is so good that they move it along super fast.”

“Into the Woods” will premiere at the Fort Hamilton Army Base Theater on Friday, June 8 at 8 p.m. Four additional shows will be performed. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $15 for children under 12. For more times or to purchase tickets, visit www.nctheaterny.com.