After starring in Broadway shows ranging from "Les Miserables" to "Dracula: The Musical," Melissa Errico is finally getting to play the Baker’s Wife in "Into the Woods," a plum role she’s coveted since her theater-struck teen years growing up in Manhasset.
“It’s one of my dream roles,” Errico says of the bread-baking, witch-cursed, prince-kissing young mother. Errico, one of several stars in the concert version of Stephen Sondheim’s fractured fairy tale at Patchogue Theatre March 8 and 9, also gets to sing five songs, including the wise and witty “Moments in the Woods.”
Meanwhile, Sondheim and composer Leonard Bernstein’s "West Side Story" score is also being revived in a weekend concert version featuring professionals and students at Molloy College’s Madison Theatre. Both concerts feature the complete, original shows, minus Broadway’s typical trappings such as sets, rumbles and wolf costumes.
LIBRETTOS IN HAND
In the Patchogue concert, instead of marching into the woods to the title tune, Errico and her castmates will be lined up in front of music stands with librettos in hand due to the brief rehearsal and memorization time. Tony Award winner Alice Ripley plays the Witch, and "American Idol" finalist turned "Rock of Ages" headliner Constantine Maroulis appears as both Cinderella's Prince and The Wolf that stalks Little Red Riding Hood.
The A-list cast also includes Ayla Schwartz, currently appearing as Young Elsa in "Frozen The Musical" on Broadway, as Little Red Riding Hood; Ali Ewoldt, who recently completed more than two years as Christine Daaé in Broadway's "The Phantom of the Opera," as Cinderella; and Alan Muraoka of "Sesame Street" as the Narrator. They’ll be accompanied by a 15-piece orchestra.
The concert version, which restores numbers that didn't make the cut for the 2014 movie, spotlights Sondheim’s brilliant words and music.
“Sondheim is so alive with his puzzles, and his self-consciousness and all his double meanings,” Errico says. “Every word in a Stephen Sondheim musical counts.”
“It is a celebration of this amazing show, which really is a masterpiece,” Maroulis says.
"West Side Story" receives a bare-bones, musically rich revival at Molloy.
The 43-piece, Rockville Centre-based South Shore Symphony will be playing Bernstein’s original orchestrations, which were used in the 1961 movie but have rarely been heard with a full orchestra since the show’s original 1950s run, says Angelo Fraboni, Madison Theatre’s artistic director.
“Because Bernstein wrote very symphonically, 'West Side Story' lends itself to a big symphony, and a concert version opens the possibilities up,” says Fraboni, the production’s director. “You’re hearing it the way Bernstein conceived the show and the music.”
Broadway professionals and members of the Madison Theatre Studio Company, which includes students in the Molloy/Cap 21 Theater Arts Program, will be playing Maria, Tony and rival Jets and Sharks gang members. Some dance numbers will be performed, but most of the stage will be occupied by the symphony orchestra.
Molloy sophomore theater arts major Katharine Calabrese, 20, of East Rockaway, who plays Maria, says the relaxed format frees her to concentrate on interpreting heartbreaking Bernstein/Sondheim love ballads such as "Tonight" and "Somewhere."
Calabrese says that in a concert setting, “I really feel like I can connect with the music on a deep, emotional level.”
'Into the Woods in Concert
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Friday, March 8, and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 9, Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, 71 E. Main St.
INFO $29-$69; 631-207-1313, patchoguetheatre.org
'West Side Story' in Concert
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Saturday, March 9, and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 10, Madison Theatre at Molloy College, 1000 Hempstead Ave., Rockville Centre
INFO $35-$45; 516-323-4444, madisontheatreny.org