Theatre BAM presents ‘Into the Woods’ in La Grange
Little Red, played by Brenna Conroy of Hinsdale, rehearses for Theatre BAM's "Into the Woods." | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
‘Into The Woods’
BAM Theatre, Lyons Township High School North Campus, 100 S. Brainard Ave., La Grange
7 p.m. July 12-13, and 2 and 7 p.m. July 14
Tickets are $18
Updated: July 12, 2012 1:55PM
Twelve years ago, Melanie Lamoureux got a group of neighborhood friends together to put on a theater production.
Today, her theatre company, BAM, named after her and her friends’ first initials, has enriched the theatrical experiences of more than 250 youth in the western suburbs every summer since with youth theater programs, week-long Broadway Workshop camps and for advanced theater students, a college intensive program which will perform Stephen Soldheim’s and James Lapine’s “Into The Woods,” July 12-14 at Lyons Township High School North Campus.
“It started out as backyard project with some friends and has since grown into one of the most successful theater organizations in the western suburban area,” said founder and Hinsdale native Lamoureux, 24, who graduated from the University of Toronto with a music education degree, then went on to the Boston Conservatory for a master’s degree in theater. “Our mission is to provide excellent theater opportunities for youth in our area while providing an enriching experience.”
Thirty high school and college students studying theater will be performing this weekend’s fairy tale performance of “Into The Woods.”
“We like to put our own unique spin on things but it’s based on the Brothers Grimm’s tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Jack in the Beanstalk, and spins it all together in a tumultuous walk through the woods,” Lamoureux explains.
The role of the show’s narrator is usually performed by an older actor, but Lamoureux created two new, double cast roles of an 8-year-old and 10-year-old, who are brother and sister and best friends. The story takes a turn when the brother passes away and the sister copes with the death by running through the woods led by her brother’s guardian angel.
Katelyn Turner, 9, of Hinsdale, plays the girl narrator in one of the shows.
“My brother died and I’m going into the woods to remember him and I bring my toys. I imagine him coming and we tell the story together,” said Turner, performing in her fifth BAM production. “I realize at the end he’s just a guardian angel.”
“It’s a completely original take and sits in line with the theme of show — no one is alone; a spirit is always there to guide you,” Lamoureux explains as the show explores the relationship between children and adults. “Children are always listening and learning from your mistakes.”
Another unique spin on this version of “Into The Woods” is the audience will be seated on the auditorium stage at Lyons Township High School, limiting seating to only 100 seats. Where the audience would normally sit will transform into a wooded forest for the tale using more than 600 yards of fabric for the trees allowing for more “depth and mystery” during the performance.
“I’ve never done something like that before and it looks really good,” said Zack Newman, 14, of Naperville, who portrays one of the boy narrators. “I can’t wait to perform there.”
An actor for several years, Newman said this is his first show with BAM.
“I think it’s great,” Newman said.” I like how Melanie changed it.”
“This will be a completely different theater experience,” Lamoureux said. “Into the Woods is a completely moving show about life journeys, wishes and conquests that is completely applicable to both kids and adults. It’s a beautiful story and [theater-goers] will be thrilled by the performance. The actors are top notch and talented.”
Turner, who will be awarded a star for her fifth BAM show, looks forward to performing with BAM each summer.
“I love the friendships between everyone,” Turner said. “I love singing and acting.”
Her mom, Debbie, has been pleased as well.
“Melanie does such a great job with them,” Debbie Turner said, noting they had some other commitments with Irish Dancing competitions but still wanted to participate. “It’s not something you can pass up; it’s always a great experience especially for her to be able to be with all of the older kids that are so talented.”
Lamoureux hopes BAM will continue to grow and expand beyond the western suburban area and maybe into a year-round program. Lamoureux expects her future will include directing, producing and managing local theater. Meanwhile, she plans to teach music classes at Fenwick High School and at the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center at Morton College in the fall.