Serena Poggi as Little Red Riding Hood. Photo by Thomas Chown

By ROBERT DIGITALE

Drama lover alert: the college theater scene is about to take an unusually long hiatus, at least by Santa Rosa standards.

Friday April 20 marks the start of “Into the Woods,” Stephen Sondheim’s ingenious twist on several classic fairytales. The musical culminates Santa Rosa Junior College’s Theatre Arts 2018 drama season.

Normally that would mean in about two months college thespians from around the U.S. would start showing up to rehearse for SRJC’s Summer Repertory Theatre program. Soon audiences could expect to be treated to a summer of dramas and musicals.

But SRT said it couldn’t find a suitable substitute venue while the college’s Burbank auditorium undergoes an extensive renovation. Thus, it has decided to take a hiatus this season for the first time in its 46-year history. That means “Into the Woods” will be the last college production until fall, and the last big musical at SRJC until Thanksgiving.

The play runs through May 6 at Maria Carrillo High School’s auditorium, held there due to the work at Burbank.

Alana Weatherby at The Witch. Photo by Jeff Thomas

As I’ve written before, this “once-upon-a-time” musical turns some beloved children’s tales on their ears, all the while using their primal themes to tug on our heartstrings.

A baker and his wife long for a child. A mistreated, unloved stepdaughter wants to go to the ball. A simple boy and his mother must sell their milk cow in order to survive. And a ruthless witch craves ingredients for a mysterious potion.

Will they get their desires? And what will happen if they do? You think you know the story, then you don’t.

Ella Park as Cinderella. Photo by Jeff Thomas

The musical’s songs include “No One is Alone,” “Children Will Listen,” “Agony” and “Giants in the Sky.”

The large cast includes Ezra Hernandez, Alan Kafton, Alanna Weatherby, Brett Mollard, Katie Smith, Serena Poggi, Levi Sterling, Miranda Williams, Ella Park, Cooper Bennett, Roberto Pérez Kempton, Shayla Nordby, Kira Catanzaro, Khalid Shayota, Shawna Jackson, Emma LeFever, Danny Bañales,  Victor Santoyo Cruz, Katerina Flores, David Klaut, Ana Ochoa, Siobhan Aida O’Reilly, Vincent Martin, Christopher Shayota, Lana Spring and Ariana Millar.

The production is directed by Laura Downing-Lee, with music direction by Justin Pyne, vocal direction by Jody Benecke and choreography by Tamara Grose.

Ezra Hernandez as The Wolf and Serena Poggi as Little Red Riding Hood. Photo by Jeff Thomas

The high school is located at 6975 Montecito Blvd., Santa Rosa.

For tickets and more information, click here.