Ellen Diehl may not be donning the glass slippers again as Cinderella, but her newest role has her searching for such a shoe.
Diehl is one of a number of local residents and students who will help the Carlisle Theatre Company return to the stage with a production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” next weekend.
Now a Messiah College student, Diehl is not the only one making a return to the world of fairytales. A number of her former classmates and cast members of Carlisle High School’s “Cinderella” musical last year are joining her on stage. While another will take the role of Cinderella, Diehl will perform as the Baker’s Wife in “Into the Woods.” Former “Cinderella” castmate Ozlyn Smith drops the role of Cinderella’s prince to be Rapunzel’s Prince, and Sarah Swahlon becomes one of Cinderella’s stepsisters instead of her fairy godmother.
Whatever the role, being in the musical is a dream for much of the cast.
“I love the show,” Diehl said. “It’s the musical that I saw at my high school as a freshman.”
Nicole Greenwood had been a stay-at-home mom for 16 years, and it wasn’t until she moved to Middlesex Township when her husband was set to teach at the U.S. Army War College that Greenwood saw the audition notice for “Into the Woods” and knew she had to try for the role of the Witch.
“I just love Bernadette Peters (who played the Witch on Broadway),” Greenwood said, noting that she held onto a VHS copy of the musical for years. “Never in a million years did I think I could do this. This is a holy grail type of show. I looked at the posted audition and looked at the age range, and I fit. I thought I might as well throw my hat in the ring.”
Though the cast as a whole skews toward the younger side, Greenwood said she hardly notices when she takes the stage.
“It’s a relatively young cast but they sing well beyond their years,” she said. “Everybody’s putting their heart into the show.”
For the Carlisle Theatre Company, this is its first production since the change in leadership. Former artistic director Dustin LeBlanc left the company to lead Keystone Theatrics, which produces the plays at The Playhouse at Allenberry. The last production at Carlisle Theatre was “Sister Act” in early April. The Summerfair musical, which had been eyed as “Grease,” had fallen through.
Heather Kline of Chambersburg was chosen to direct the theater company’s return to the stage, and she said “Into the Woods” was a collectively agreed upon production for the board.
“I personally love the show,” she said. “I think a lot of it still applies today ... that we’re all in this together and to be careful what you wish for.”
Jeremy Lupowitz, who plays the Baker, echoed that sentiment about the show.
“It’s relevant now ... it gets so much of what it means to have humanity,” said Lupowitz, a Dickinson College graduate who now lives in Carlisle. “And it’s Sondheim, and its music and lyrics are gorgeous.”
The musical is much beloved in theater circles, but the 2014 feature film also introduced the musical to a wider audience, including Dylan Rogers.
The Lemoyne resident sings in a praise band but had never gotten into theater until he met his wife, Chrisanna Rogers. He was more familiar with the film version of “Into the Woods” and admits to singing one of the show’s songs, “Agony,” around the house.
It certainly proved useful after he was cast as Cinderella’s Prince, one part of that duet. It wasn’t, however, something he thought he’d be doing.
“I did it as a joke,” Rogers laughed of his first audition for any show. His wife had wanted to audition for the musical. “I was like, ‘Sure, I’ll audition with you.’”
Both of them ended up getting parts with Chrisanna getting the role of Rapunzel. Though he’s new to the stage, the theater bug has firmly taken hold.
“I wish I had gotten into theater younger,” he said.
Kline admits she was a little worried at first with the sheer number of younger actors auditioning—with a large portion being girls going for the role of Little Red Riding Hood—but she finds she got exactly who she wanted for each role.
“It’s almost like fate,” she said. “They each fit the role.”
The cast will take the stage for a one-weekend only performance, with shows at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 5. Premium tickets are $25, adult tickets are $20 and student tickets are $15.
For more information, visit www.CarlisleTheatre.org or call the theater at 717-258-0666.