Ian Jones, Amdram stalwart, behind-the-scenes worker and official photographer, says the attraction of Amdram's new show is "youth" and the fact that "most adults and kids will know the storyline".
Caitlin Currie and Charlie Waugh are two of the young folk in the cast. With seven years between them — Caitlin is 20 and Charlie is 13 — the emphasis is still on youth. It's also on talent, because this young cast and their young director, Maddi McKenzie, 17, and their musical director, Caleb Arthur, 23, are proving themselves to be exceptionally good, according to all concerned.
Caitlin plays the evil stepmother in the Cinderella story, and she's the stage mother of Florinda (Sophie Toyne, 12) and Lucinda (Lucy Hartley, 14). Caitlin says it's hard to act evil when she has such cute "daughters". "No," she says. "I have to channel it!
"Cinderella's mother died and I married her father because they have money, and I wanted that money. Because she's my stepdaughter, not my blood, I treat her horrifically."
The premise is a baker and his wife are travelling through the woods looking for things as demanded by a witch who has cast a bad spell on their household. As they travel, they encounter fairytales and their inhabitants.
"We don't have any major scenes together," says Caitlin, "It's more that we kind of intertwine, using them for our own benefit in trying to track down the prince to marry my daughters off. We use them as a plot point to help our characters advance in the story."
Caitlin says she auditioned for any of the lead females but she's pretty pleased with her role. Struck down with Covid at the time, she had to audition by video from home.
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Charlie Waugh is Jack, of beanstalk fame. She says she had no preference when she auditioned.
"I just went and read for multiple different characters and waited for them to decide what character I would fit." She says that off stage she has been told she acts like a little boy. That, and the fact that her hair is the right length, she says, got her the role.
Knowing how demanding the auditions were and how high the general standard of acting and singing is, Charlie is being modest.
"I own one of the four things that the baker and the baker's wife need to make a potion ...," she says, and we'll leave it there to avoid a spoiler. Everybody sings in the show, and most have a solo. Charlie's solo is a song called Giants in the Sky.
"And she kills it," says Caitlin.
Into the Woods features songs by Stephen Sondheim, a composer known for complexity and high level of difficulty.
"It is tough," says Caitlin. She has been in other musicals so can compare. "There is so much layering ... there are the harmonies and you've also got really quick transitions in the music. You've got to be on to it, on to it, on to it the whole time."
Charlie agrees, but they both are really enjoying the challenge.
"There are more songs than dialogue [in the play]," says Caitlin.
After being musically busy at Whanganui High School, this is Caitlin's first foray back into it in a few years. The rest of the time she's busy riding racehorses in Waverley.
Charlie attends Whanganui High School and also works at Article Cafe.
They both agree that Maddi McKenzie is "awesome" to work with.
They also are pleased with their musical director, Caleb Arthur. "He's really good at explaining everything," says Charlie.
The play is a mix of light and dark, but promises to be hugely entertaining.
"Probably the darkest part of the first half is the wolf being super-creepy to Little Red Riding Hood," says Charlie.
Tickets for Into the Woods are selling fast.