Into the woods: Summer program for students ends in song

It’s an actor. It’s a technician. It’s the High School Super Musical.

Altoona Community Theatre held its first five-week theater program dubbed the High School Super Musical for students from the area this summer.

The program concludes with a production of “Into The Woods,” a musical Stephen Sondheim scored based on the book by James Lapine that follows a baker and his wife on a quest as they encounter iconic fairy tale characters.

Shows will be held at the Mishler Theatre next week.

More than 30 students from four counties are participating in the program that is led by different members of ACT with experience to share, said ACT Operations Manager Steven C. Helsel.

The students met for rehearsals five evenings a week at Penn State Altoona, which partnered with ACT, he said.

“We have a great group of kids from all over the region who have been working very hard. The students are not only acting in the show, but also doing all the technical aspects too,” the show’s director Kate Wolf said. “I am very impressed by their energy and their talents. They are very willing to try different things. They have varying degrees of experience and they’re from all different school districts so it’s really been cool to be exposing them to just some different ways of doing things.”

The students have “gotten to learn from a number of different people and be exposed to a lot of different styles and ideas,” she said.

Students auditioned and interviewed for the production, Helsel said. Program participants gained hands on production experience and got to participate in workshops, including ones teaching them script analysis and music theory.

“It’s taken a huge amount of coordination and planning and time leading up to this but I think it’s been a great process and I really think that the kids in both the cast and crew have gotten an excellent educational experience from it, as well as have had a lot of fun and really enjoying being a part of it,” Wolf said. “I’m really impressed with the quality of the work that we have had from both the technical students and the acting students.”

“I think people will be very impressed with the show and with what they have achieved,” she said.

Grace Misera, 14, who will be a ninth-grader this upcoming school year at Bellwood-Antis High School, plays Little Red Riding Hood in the show.

“It’s really super fun,” she said of playing the role. “She’s really, really sassy and … I can relate to that certainly… But she is a really fun person to play because she interacts with so many people in the show and actually this is the biggest role I’ve ever played. … It’s really great to be able to act with a whole bunch of people from other iconic fairytales.”

She also gets to act opposite her sister, Hannah, who plays the witch and recently graduated from Bellwood-Antis.

The two do have a few scenes together, Grace said. “Most of them are confrontational so we’re good at that,” she added with a laugh.

Grace said the program is great.

“It’s a really awesome new concept because I’m meeting a lot of people from different schools that I wouldn’t have met by myself, and this show in general is a really great show and its challenging even for adults to do. … It’s just a really really cool experience,” she said.

“They should do it again,” she said of the program.

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.