Merit to Present FREE Into the Woods, JR! August 19 & 20

Merit School of Music invites the public to enjoy a free performance of the school’s first fully-staged musical theater production, Into the Woods, Jr.!

Merit’s Conservatory Solo Voice students, Summer Voice Camp students, and students from ChiArts, will bring favorite fairy tales to life in this lyrically rich retelling of classic Brothers Grimm fables.

See Chicago’s musical theater stars of tomorrow perform Into the Woods, Jr! on Saturday, August 19 at 7 p.m., or Sunday, August 20 at 2 p.m. at Merit School of Music, Joy Faith Knapp Music Center, 38 S. Peoria St. in Chicago’s West Loop. Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance at For more information, call (312) 786-9428.

Nearly 20 musical theater artists ages 12 to 18 will bring new life to the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales. Follow the stories of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel, all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them.

The cast for Merit’s first all-ages musical mirrors the school’s diverse student body, and represents the city, suburbs and all socioeconomic backgrounds: Jordan Davis, 16, a 10th grader at ChiArts (Granny/Cinderella’s Mother); Miranda Dianovsky, 16, a senior at ChiArts (Jack’s Mother); Arlecia Ebert, 16, a junior at Hinsdale South High School and resident of Darien (Cinderella); Carl Faust, 14, an 8th grader at Roosevelt Middle School and resident of River Forest (Jack); Benjamin Gourdji, 13, a 9th grader at Francis W. Parker (Baker); Josephine Harris, 12, a 7th grader at Burley Elementary (Florinda); Maya Lopez, 16, a sophomore at Morgan Park Academy (The Witch), of Monee; Walter Lopez, 10, a 5th grader at Morgan Park Academy (Milky White), of Monee; Henry Lunn, 16, a senior at Lake Forest High School and resident of Lake Forest; Lance Mahome, 13, a 9th grader at Mount Carmel High School (Steward); Ashley O’Toole, 16, a junior at Francis W. Parker (Rapunzel); Joanna Starr Poulos, 15, a 10th grader at ChiArts (Little Red Riding Hood); Michael Poulosophos, 16, a junior at ChiArts (Cinderella’s Prince/Wolff); Jennifer Quintero, 17, a senior at Lincoln Park High (Narrator 1); Daniela Reyes, 15, a 10th grader at ChiArts (Baker’s Wife); Aliah Robinson, 15, a 10th grader at ChiArts; Grayson Schementi, 13, a 9th grader at Francis W. Parker (Cinderella’s Father/ Mysterious Man); Nina Sharda, 12, an 8th grader at Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Narrator 2); and Niani Soto, 16, a junior at ChiArts (Cinderella’s Grandmother). Stage Director is AJ Wester. Musical Director is Julian Chin. Set Design is by Milo Bue. Lighting Design is by Cat Wilson.

Merit School of Music’s Into the Woods, Jr! is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Lapine. Originally directed on Broadway by James Lapine. Original Broadway production produced by Heidi Landesman, M. Anthony Fisher, Rocco Landesman, Frederick H. Mayerson, Rick Steiner and Jujamcyn Theaters. Originally produced by Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, CA.

Special thanks to Caerus Foundation, Inc., a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and Shure Incorporated for their generous support of this production.

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