Intrigue awaits in the ‘Woods’; New community theater production opens

Lydia Symonds as The Witch. Lydia is so excited to be a part of the cast of Into the Woods. Throughout the last 10 years, she has performed in a variety of shows including: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, August: Osage County, Oklahoma, Fiddler on the Roof, and many more.
After high school, Lydia participated in a semester-long tour with the organization Up with People. During her tour, she spent time working on community service projects, experiencing new cultures, and singing and dancing in their weekly show. Having now completed her first year of college, Lydia is ready to return to the theater.
Matthew Mayo as The Baker. This is Matthew’s second show with Lake Region Community Theatre. He was a part of The Wizard of Oz last year, where he was the Lion. He has done quite a few shows outside of community theater with Lake Region High School and Middle School. Some of these shows include Willy Wonka Jr., Cyrano De Burger Shack, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Footloose, Tartuffe, and Kiss me Kate.
Matthew is also a three-sport athlete at Lake Region High School, playing soccer, basketball and outdoor track and field. He also plays the trumpet at Lake Region High School, sings in the chorus and is a member of the National Honor Society.
(Rivet Photo)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Something magical, yet complex is ready to unfold on the Lake Region High School stage starting this Friday.

Into the Woods intertwines the plots of several fairy tales, exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. Characters include Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Cinderella.

Headlining the musical will be Lydia Symonds of Casco, who plays the role of the Witch, and Matthew Mayo of Bridgton, who handles the duties of the Baker. The musical is tied together by a story involving a childless baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family, their interaction with a witch who has placed a curse on them, and their exchanges with other storybook characters during their journey.

With the show opening this Friday at Lake Region High School, The News caught up with the two lead performers for their thoughts about Into the Woods and the thrills they get appearing on stage:

BN. How did you get involved in theater?

Lydia: I first got involved in theater when I was 11 at community theater in Windham. My older sister had been in a few plays at Lake Region. I was never a sports person. I loved to perform — sing, dance, always animated. So, it was an obvious choice for me. I love just becoming a character — to be able to throw myself into a different person’s life and situations. It helps me understand people by looking at life from a different perspective.

Matt: When I was younger, I would always sing and dance around the house. As I got older, I took part in elementary school plays. I decided, why not do it and jumped right in. I loved it. I have been doing it ever since. Ms. Sands really got me interested. She’s the best. My grandfather and uncle, my dad a tiny bit (he really wasn’t that good). With this show, I’ve gone to my grandfather (Richard Mayo, who was a longtime play director at LRHS) for help going over my lines and developing my character. He’s helped me go in-depth who my character is. It’s been really helpful. I wish I had taken that offer forever ago. I think he’s really proud of what I am doing…I love the singing part. I really, really love the attention. I love the applause. I really like getting into character. It gives me a challenge. The people are amazing. We are like a family.

BN: What have been some of the challenges you have had to conquer?

Lydia: Personal growth, learning what it takes to really be in a show. Learning how much commitment it really takes, and how involved you need to be. It’s fun, but it’s not just for fun, it’s a real commitment.

Matt: When I was younger, it was getting up on stage and just having fun. As I got older and taking on bigger roles, it evolved into having to be someone that I’m not. It’s a big commitment. Sometimes, the character you get isn’t easy. Voice ranges you have to conquer. I’m better at pushing through when I make a mistake.

BN: How do you get past a mistake?

Lydia: You have to trust yourself and the actors on stage. We’re a team. If you mess up, you trust the other people will get you through it. We work through things together. This is the first show I have been in in two years. I’m a little nervous, but have faith in my abilities and the casts’ abilities.

Matt: Once you get off the stage, you clear your mind really quick and move on to the next scene. It’s like the next play in a basketball game, you move on. How comfortable I am depends on the role. This one has been difficult, so on opening night, I’ll probably wonder if I am in over my head. Once I say a few lines, the nerves will go away.

BN: What do you really like about the roles you will be playing in this show?

  1. Imagine some of your favorite Grimm’s fairy tales…perhaps you thought of Cinderella? Or Little Red Riding Hood? Maybe you fondly recall Jack and his beanstalk?
    Lake Region Community Theatre is proud to present Into the Woods, a musical which will reunite you with some of Grimm’s famous characters. Filled with the mesmerizing music of Stephen Sondheim, including such songs as “Children Will Listen” and “No One Is Alone,” the story presented to you finds the characters seeking fulfillment of wishes and venturing forth on quests.
    But, not all is as it seems in our tale!
    What happens when the wishes come true? What will our characters learn about the unintended consequences of their choices?
    Come see The Narrator (Barb Stauble of Harrison), The Witch (Lydia Symonds of Casco), Rapunzel (Corinne Ulmer of Windham), Rapunzel’s Prince (Derrek Schrader of Bridgton), The Baker (Matt Mayo of Bridgton), The Baker’s Wife (Corban Ridlon of Casco and Isabella Wears of Naples), Little Red Riding Hood (Annie O’Connor and Kate Rose, both of Bridgton), The Wolf (Walker Elsaesser of Casco), Granny (Abbie Vaughn of Brownfield), Jack (Thomas Kolofsky of Sebago), Jack’s Mother (Vicki Norris of Casco), Milky White (Sophey Potter of Windham and Rachel Frum of Sweden), Cinderella (Paige Goldstein of Naples), The Stepmother (Julie Frum of Sweden), the stepsisters, Florinda (Helen Crawford of Bridgton) and Lucinda (Jessica Frum of Sweden), Cinderella’s Father (Timothy Holbrook of Bridgton), Cinderella’s Prince (Sean Buchanan of Naples), The Steward (David DelVecchio of Bridgton), Cinderella’s Mother (Susie Mosca of Lovell), The Mysterious Man (Payson Avery of Casco), Snow White (Sophey Potter), Sleeping Beauty (Rachel Frum) and finally, The Giant (Collette Woodson of Casco) as they weave an unexpected tale for you!
    Into the Woods is directed by Rob Juergens with musical direction by Brian Tingdahl. Costumes created by Michelle DelVecchio and the set designed and built by Chris Madura.
    Into the Woods will be performed this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 3–5 and returns next week, Aug. 10–12. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m., while Sunday performances are at 2 p.m. at Lake Region High School in Naples.
    Special thanks to Platinum sponsor Norway Savings Bank and Gold sponsor Hancock Lumber.
    Tickets are on sale at the following locations: Lemon & Tulips in Fryeburg; Bridgton Books, Hayes True Value in Bridgton; Krainin Real Estate in Raymond; Watkins Flowers in Casco; Casco Public Library; Naples Public Library; Aubuchon Hardware in Naples; and always at the door.
    Into the Woods is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance material also supplied by MTI, 423 West 55th Street, New York, NY 10019.

Lydia: I play the Witch. I love that she is a really realistic character, but she is also very complex. I have had a lot of fun trying to figure her out. She has a lot of complex emotions. She is kind of the villain of the show but, at the same time, kind of not. If it seems confusing, you will need to come see the show and fully understand.

Matt: I play the Baker. He is the most basic character in the show, but he’s also not. He has the biggest change. That’s my favorite part, but it’s also the hardest, which makes me a little bit nervous. I love how he develops through the whole show. Some characters develop between Act 1 and Act 2. This character is constantly changing, and has different perspectives. It’s interesting.

BN: What about your character has been difficult to deal with?

Lydia: Because she is a complex character, it’s been really hard to dig down and understand what she is feeling. What drives her to do what she does. It’s challenging. But, I enjoy it.

Matt: Some of the singing is a little low, but I am pushing through it. It’s a struggle.

BN: What is it about Into the Woods that it is a must see?

Lydia: It’s a great show — well written, really interesting, but I think it offers a different perspective. It’s very heart touching. There’s a lot of loss and pain. It brings a different perspective on happily ever after. It’s definitely not what is expected. It gets you thinking. It’s a good show to watch. When I saw it as a movie, I was blown away by it. I’ve done some shows with community theater before, but when I heard they were doing this show, I wanted to do it.

Matt: People should come to this show not just because we have amazing acting and amazing direction, this show is almost too well written. The audience should pay attention to all the little tidbits throughout the whole show. The messages the story has are really powerful.

BN: When considering the different roles you have had, how do these characters rate?

Lydia: This would probably be in my Top 5, if not my Top 3. I think this is my 18th show that I have been in. I thoroughly enjoy this character. My senior year in high school, I played a role in the fall play that was very, very challenging. It was the role of Violet in August: Osage County. It was an older woman who had cancer. It was a very interesting show. She was a character that was very different than myself. It was interesting trying to find myself through her. It was probably my Number 1.

Matt: This character is definitely the hardest character I have ever had to play. But, that’s why it brings it either Number 1 or 2. This role is very deep. I enjoy it a lot. Most of the time, the roles I have had are comical. It’s fun to do, but this has given me something I’ve always wanted to do. I am so grateful that I have been given the chance to do a role like this.

BN: Talk about accepting roles

Lydia: Each member is invaluable no matter how many lines they have or how many songs they sing. We couldn’t do the play without them. We have a couple of girls in the show that play a cow. Without the cow, we wouldn’t have a story. She is such a big part of the story. I’ve been cast in roles that I didn’t want but, at the end of the day, you remind yourself that if you weren’t cast in this role, there would be no show. It’s a working machine, and each part is as important as another.

Matt: I’ve been disappointed not getting a certain role, but then once you start practicing, going over the lines of the character you got, you realize it isn’t too bad. It’s always fun to act. I didn’t expect the lead in this show. I auditioned for one of the princes. I was very shocked that I got the lead. It was unreal for a little bit. It took me awhile to realize that I can make this role amazing and do justice to it.

BN: Beyond the applause, how do you know you ‘nailed’ a performance?

Lydia: Quite often, it’s a feeling. If I miss a line or mess up a song, if I have a feeling that I played the character well, that I am convincing and entertaining, then that’s a success for me.

Matt: If you get the lines and dancing right, it makes you feel good. But, the reaction of the audience tells me if I nailed it. If you get a laugh or applause you didn’t expect, it tells you that you’ve succeeded.

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