by Lorie Lewis Ham
Into the Woods Jr. opens in Fresno this weekend, presented by Children’s Musical TheaterWorks. KRL took a moment to speak with some of the cast, Chris Ortiz-Belcher who plays the Baker and Claira Broach who plays the Bakers Wife, and the show’s director Brandon Delsid.
KRL: What do you like best about playing this part?
Chris: What I enjoy the most about this role is how many interactions I have with all of the other characters. It’s interesting to see other fairy tale characters going through life
Claira: This role cracks me up because she just won’t take no for an answer. The Baker is constantly telling her to go away but she’s extremely stubborn and determined. She allows The Baker to believe he wears the pants in the relationship, but then essentially disregards almost everything her husband tells her to do.
KRL: What has been the hardest?
Chris: I’d have to say the most difficult thing I have to do as the Baker is show how his journey through the wood changed him for the better as a person.
Claira: For me, the hardest part would have to be learning the specific order of words in each line. All the lines are written with great precision and I was very careful in learning the script the way it was written.
KRL: Is this a role you had dreamed about playing?
Claira: Yes. 100% yes. While other ten year olds were singing Kelly Clarkson songs, I was singing Rogers and Hammerstein. Ever since I saw the show when in the 6th grade, The Baker’s Wife immediately made it on my list of dream roles.
Chris: I have definitely dreamt about playing this role. Since seventh grade actually! Of course I plan on pursuing a role as the Baker in the full version of Into the Woods later in my life.
KRL: How many shows have you been in, in the past?
Claira: I’ve been in over 30 shows starting at five years old! I guess you could classify me as a theatre nerd since theatre has always been a gigantic part of my life, and always will be.
Chris: I have been doing shows since I was in third grade, but this is my first CMT show! I had only done school shows before and being a junior at Clovis High School and having the wonderful help of my drama teacher, Mrs. Susan Kehler, I thought it was time I took a shot at community theatre!
Questions for director Brandon Delsid:
KRL: Why did CMT choose to do this show?
Brandon: A show like Into The Woods is timeless and has characters that have been re-created time and time again. The music and story are so relatable and with the movie having just come out, it was the perfect time for CMT to re-stage it in a new and unique way!
KRL: Have there been any special challenges to directing this show? Or with the music of Sondheim, which I know can often be a challenge?
Brandon: I was blessed with a fantastic and talented cast of 10-20 year olds that came into rehearsals with a vigor and passion for the piece that I had never seen before. I would undoubtedly say the cast features some of Fresno’s best and brightest upcoming talent.
KRL: What has the rehearsal process been like?
Brandon: It’s been extremely smooth and rewarding so far. I’ve never directed a show by myself, but was up for the challenge! CMT and my cast have been stellar. I’ve gotten to share a lot of things I’ve learned over the years doing theater with them, and they’ve taken it and ran with it. The cast is 100 percent ready to open and share all their hard and passionate work with you.
KRL: How many weeks will you have rehearsed?
Brandon: We’ve been rehearsing for six weeks, including tech week, and are ecstatic to finally open on March 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Downtown Fresno.
KRL: What has been the most enjoyable so far?
Brandon: The most enjoyable part so far would have to be now that the show is staged and we’ve been running it for a couple weeks, witnessing the cast delve deeper into their characters and find chemistry with each other that is absolutely remarkable and engaging to watch for performers of their age.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Brandon: We are doing the junior production which is perfect for kids of all ages and adults alike. It maintains the magical Sondheim score and all of the favorite songs people look forward to hearing, but eliminates a couple of the darker elements. We’d love for you to join us and see it for yourself, Friday March 20 through the 29! For tickets, times and more information call Children’s Musical TheaterWorks at (866) 973-9610 or visit CMTworks.org!
Check out more local arts and entertainment articles in KRL’s A & E section.