Covites part of cast and crew in upcoming VLA production
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Several Copperas Cove residents are cast members and will be on stage this weekend and next for the Vive Les Arts Theatre’s production of the musical “Into the Woods”.
“Into the Woods” tells the story of a baker and his wife who long for a child and try to undo a curse placed on them by a witch, but in the background and intermingling with the couple are also the classic fairytale stories of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Giant Beanstalk and Rapunzel.
Copperas Cove High School senior Parker Reed, 17, plays two roles in the musical, as Cinderella’s stepsister Lucinda and voicing Cinderella’s mother off-stage.
Reed has been doing theater with VLA since age 12 and has put in over 900 hours with the theater, she said.
Reed said the cast was excited for the public to see the show.
“We’re all really nervous, but we’re all confident in each other,” Reed said. “We’ve been working really hard on this show. This is a very difficult show. Sondheim is a crazy, crazy writer, but I feel like we’re very confident for the first show, and we’ve got to make it good because my theater teacher is coming.”
Reed’s character of Lucinda lets her bring out the drama.
“My favorite part so far is being able to be unapologetically someone else, because Lucinda is someone so big and crazy and she laughs like crazy,” Reed said. “I get to flop about the stage, and that’s just the character, and people are going to love it.”
Cameron Dinkens, who graduated with the CCHS class of 2013 and has been involved in shows at VLA since 2009, wears two hats as well with this show.
Dinkens plays Jack, from Jack and the Giant Beanstalk, and is one of the two musical directors for the show.
Dinkens said that the cast has been rehearsing nightly for the past six weeks and has been spending a lot of time together learning their roles.
“We have a fantastic company of individuals for this show, so I think we’re going to go out and we’re going to kill it,” Dinkens said.
According to Dinkens, nearly every person working on the show as an actor is also working as a member of the crew.
“Theater is always a bonding experience with this particular show because we’re all doing so much for it,” Dinkens said. “We’ve all really come together especially in the current climate of things. Theater is like a family but this time, it hits a little different.”
For stage manager Lizzi Covert, who is also from Copperas Cove, “Into the Woods” is one of the best fairy tale collaborations.
“I love crossover type episodes, you know, when your favorite characters come together, and “Into the Woods” is like that perfect crossover type story of all of these fairytale creatures, plus you have this unique story that runs throughout the plot of “Into the Woods”, and the way it coordinates the classic Rapunzel story is just really beautiful,” Covert said. “It’s very seamless. You almost think the whole Baker, Baker’s Wife situation of “Into the Woods” is a natural part of Rapunzel’s story.”
The musical’s director, Stephanie Smoot, explains that the VLA Theatre chose “Into the Woods” instead of another production due to its smaller cast size, which was especially important during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Originally, the show was going to be “Something Rotten,” and you need at least 40 people to do that show, and our show, we’re looking at 20 to 25 people, including all the tech people,” Smoot said, with some actors doubling up on roles.
The cast has rehearsed and practiced in smaller groups, and learning by themselves, only coming together as one cast in the past week.
“[Composer Stephen Sondheim’s] music is quite challenging, so we kept saying Sondheim in six weeks is no joke, so six weeks to put this show together has been a whirlwind, but the cast is super talented,” Smoot said.
Smoot added that there has been great support from theater staff and production staff as well.
“It’s definitely been a nice outlet for people,” Smoot said. “Especially during these times, it’s been a way to keep the arts alive and do things outside of the house, so we’re thankful that we’ve had permission to put on these shows, social distantly, and it’s been a really great experience.”
The theatre is also taking other COVID-19 precautions such as limiting ticket sales to less than180 per show, half of the theater’s capacity. Tickets can be bought online or by scanning a QR code so that a physical ticket is not needed. Programs are also available online. Intermission will be staggered so that half the audience is released at a time. Guests will be required to wear a mask in the theater and there will be spacing between each seat. Guests will have temperature checks in the lobby.
The Vive Les Arts’ production of “Into the Woods” opens tonight at the Vive Les Arts Theatre in Killeen at 7:30 p.m. and will run this weekend and next weekend, with the final show, Sunday, September 27 at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.vlakilleen.org. Prices are $15 for children 12 and under, $18 for seniors, students, military or teachers and $20 for adults.