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RTAA keeps growing with ‘Into the Woods’

Award-winning theater group hosts first production starring adults
By: Scott Thomas Anderson, The Press Tribune
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For more than a year, the Roseville Theatre Arts Academy has been harnessing the creative energy of kids in ways that make for lively stage action.

Now the emerging group will venture into new territory with its first production starring adult actors, the skewed and poignant fairytale drama, “Into the Woods.” RTAA’s expanding repertoire comes on the heels of earning 20 Elly nominations and grabbing five victories for youth theater in the region.

Almost from the beginning, the 87-year-old Roseville Theater has been a venue for live events, from Vaudeville acts to elaborate musical numbers. RTAA President Michelle Raskey believes her ensemble is ready to honor that history while giving the city of Roseville the variety of productions it deserves.

“One of the most exciting things about ‘Into the Woods’ is that it’s a return of entertainment for our adult community,” Raskey said. “While we’re still primarily a children’s theater company, but this play features veteran actors and actresses from around the area, which is exciting because the quality and professionalism is going to make for a great show.”

Embarking on “Into the Woods” was no small feat for RTAA. Playwright royalties, intricate costumes and musicians have all amounted to the most challenging mission the relatively new theater company has undertaken.

“The stage situation alone has been a big push,” Raskey said. “This is the most complicated set I’ve ever worked with. It’s a fly system that moves back and forth, up and down, and it’s working with lighting that took nearly five hours to set because of all of the special cues. But it’s worth it. I think the audience is going to find what’s on the stage really beautiful.”

Live musicians will play the piano, violin, trumpet and bassoon. Musical director Jennifer Vaughn has been working to make sure the magic in the performances blends seamlessly with the magic of the stage effects. The cast of “Into the Woods” includes Clocky McDowell, Jenna Cook, Christi Axelson, Erin Gabrielle, Tristan Rumery, Mike Mechanick, Adrienne Mars, Jonny Cranmer and more.

For Mars, the production marks her return to the stage after a long absence.

“I’ve been teaching musical theater for 21 years, but I haven’t performed in a venue like this since 1982,” Mars said. “I think this production has music that really touches the audience. That’s what I’m so excited about — being part of something bigger than me that will truly affect people.”

Cranmer, a young performer who’s been making a name for himself in El Dorado County, is also looking forward to audiences finally enjoying what the cast and crew have been working so hard at.

“I really want to see peoples’ reaction,” Cranmer said. “There are so many great layers to this show. I think there is something for everyone. It’s greater for younger audiences, but it’s also built for a more mature audience to appreciate the truly poetic themes.”

Scott Thomas Anderson can be reached at scotta@goldcountrymedia.com . Follow him on Twitter at ScottA_RsvPT.


What: RTAA's "Into the Woods"
When: Sept. 28 through Oct. 20, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
Where: The Roseville Theatre at 241 Vernon Street
Cost: $13 in advance, $15 at the door
For tickets and information: visit www.rosevilletheatreartsacademy.com