Fairy tales have a happy ending and for the young performers of Carlisle’s Rocket Theatre Group and their audiences their two-night run of Into the Woods has been just that.

The company’s first stage production for three years, due to a Covid enforced hiatus, saw the inters (school years 5-7 – ages 9-12) take to the Stanwix Theatre stage first on Saturday evening before the seniors (school years 8-13 – ages 12-18) delivered their version of this modern classic 24 hours later.

News and Star: Rocket Theatre Group Inters castRocket Theatre Group Inters cast

Months of dedicated rehearsals paid off. The actors, more than 50 in total, didn’t put a foot or note wrong. They tackled with enthusiasm and apparent ease this entertaining yet technically difficult introduction to the musical magic of the late Stephen Sondheim, and left their audiences clapping, singing and giving standing ovations.

With plots of several fairy tales cleverly combined by Sondheim, this musical provided the perfect pandemic antidote to display the range of strength, depth and camaraderie among the young talent developed by Rocket Theatre Group.

Both shows saw Noah Fitzpatrick deliver with calm consistency the central character of the Baker. The chemistry and partnership with Alex Calvert (baker’s wife, senior show), particularly during their duets, were an illustration of the friendship, fun and connections that they and their peers have beyond these live stage shows.

News and Star: Inters Witch, Amber Harrison puts on a performanceInters Witch, Amber Harrison puts on a performance

The story follows the quests and consequences of the baker and his wife, who wish to have a child but who must break the curse of a witch to do so; Cinderella’s wish to attend the King’s festival; and Jack, who wants his cow – Milky White – to milk.

And it is here where a nod must be given to those responsible for the set design and props. Their expertise and creativity brought Milky White to life – built on a frame with wheels, complete with pink rubber gloves mimicking an udder – and raised a giggle when the ‘wheely’ good hen laying golden eggs went slightly off course, to Rapunzel lowering her hair from the highest point of her tower.

News and Star: Seniors Wolf and Lil Red with Oli Hanks and Lochlan GrahamSeniors Wolf and Lil Red with Oli Hanks and Lochlan Graham

A dark comedy, Cinderella and Rapunzel’s princes provided light relief whilst the biggest laugh both nights was the scene with the ‘trick bed’ when each wolf (David Marsay Inters and Lochlan Graham, seniors) was slaughtered by the baker therefore saving Red Riding Hood and Grandma.

This summer showcase has left us wanting more of these young stage stars.

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