Senior theater major to act in last musical ‘Into the Woods’

Senior Cory Stonebrook will go on stage, ‘Into the Woods’ and out of the Department of Theatre and Film this Sunday, when he acts during the final performance of the musical directed by doctoral candidate David Sollish. Stonebrook, who plays the lead role of the Baker, has participated in nine University productions prior to ‘Into the Woods,’ and this weekend will be his last time acting on the main stage. For all his experience, Stonebrook didn’t start out as a theater major. After beginning his college career as a film student, Stonebrook started his route to a theater major when Michael Ellison, associate professor in Theatre and Film and faculty advisor for ‘Into the Woods,’ saw him standing by an audition list for ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Stonebrook said Ellison asked if he was going to audition, and he ended up doing so.’ ‘My love for theater just kind of slowly came back,’ Stonebrook said.’ ‘ Stonebrook said he had always wanted to act in a production of ‘Into the Woods.’ ”Into the Woods’ has been one of my favorites for a while,’ he said. ‘I’ve always wanted to be in it. I always wanted to play this role, but I thought I was too young.’ Stonebrook said his character, the Baker, has to ‘go into the woods to break a spell cast by a witch who lives next door.” He and his wife have to collect Cinderella’s slipper, Jack’s cow (of Jack and the Beanstalk), Little Red Riding Hood’s cape, and Rapunzel’s golden hair and give them to the witch so they can have their happily ever after and have a child. The musical shows the side of fairy tales that audiences rarely see: what happens after happily ever after. The show, which was originally directed on Broadway by James Lapine and showcases music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, mixes the experiences of many fairy tale characters and explains that granted wishes come with a cost, according to the department Web site. ‘There’s a great message that the audience gets through the story,’ Sollish said. ‘There are consequences to your actions, and sometimes when you get your wish, it’s not always for the best.’ Sollish said he knew Stonebrook would be a good choice for the lead role, partly because Sollish had played the Baker, and he saw similarities between himself and Stonebrook. ‘He just has a vulnerability that the Baker needs. He’s very honest in his acting,’ Sollish said. ‘Honestly, when I played the part back when I was his age … a lot of what I saw in myself, I see in him in this part.’ Stonebrook’s fellow senior cast members also had good things to say about him. ‘Cory’s just the sweetest man, and he’s one of the easiest actors I’ve ever had to work with,’ said Kelly Rogers, who plays the Stepmother. ‘He’s a catch for any theater person who wants him in their show.’ Tommy Thurston, who plays Jack, said he will miss working with Stonebrook and the other seniors. ‘It’s overwhelming because I’m sad because it’s our last show together, and I’m happy because I feel honored to work with them for one last time,’ Thurston said. ‘It’s going to be an awesome experience doing a show with them one last time.’ Holly Blinn, the Witch in ‘Into the Woods,’ said she will also miss performing with Stonebrook and Thurston. ‘It’s kind of hard to think that I may never be performing with them again,’ Blinn said. Stonebrook’s goal is to be an actor in either Chicago or New York. He will be acting in a couple of callback auditions in Chicago within the next couple of months, and he will hear the results of an audition at the West Virginia Public Theater sometime this month.’ Stonebrook said he’s glad his last performance is ‘Into the Woods.’ ‘It’s a challenge … but it’s taught me so much about being an actor and gaining endurance as a performer,’ he said. ‘It’s been a positive experience. I’m glad it’s my last one. It’s a good one to leave on.’ ‘Into the Woods’ starts tonight at 8 p.m., and additional performances will be April 3 and 4 and 8 p.m. and April 4 and 5 at 2 p.m. in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre.