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Protean Players return for “Into the Woods” at SSTC

Bottom row (l-r): Maddie Schreyer, Teresa Fischer, Jace Addy, Ellidi Mielke, Elissa Ries, Alex Vigil, Braydon Hoffmann. Second row (l-r): Claire Brown, Sam Schotzko, Naomi Norway. Third row (l-r): Everett Brown, Jacob Haugen. Top row (l-r): Helen Fischer, Amanda Pearson

NEW ULM — Weaving together numerous, fantastic fairy tales into a fun-for-all musical called “Into the Woods,” the Protean Players will bring the State Street Theater Co. (SSTC) stage to life from Aug. 13-15.

“Into the Woods” is being directed by Michael Koester, a veteran to the SSTC stage, while the play’s music will be directed by Brady Waibel, a New Ulm native with a vast musical background who has recently returned to town. The show is being produced by Christina Miller Koester, the current Administrator for SSTC.

Tickets can be purchased online at statestreetnewulm.org, and in person at Hy-Vee and the New Ulm Chamber of Commerce. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students if bought in advance, and $15 for adults and $10 for students at the door. There will be a 7 p.m. showing on Friday, Aug. 13, a 7 p.m. showing on Saturday, Aug. 14, and a 2 p.m. showing on Sunday, Aug. 15.

“Into The Woods” is a musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine that brings together several traditional fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, such as “Cinderella,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” and “Jack And The Beanstalk.”

“[It explores] the slippery slope of morality and the consequences that can result when people lose their way,” Waibel added. “It is all tied together by a childless baker, his wife and their wish to have a child.”

Ellidi Mielke, playing the role of Cinderella in SSTC’s upcoming musical called “Into the Woods,” rehearses.

The Protean Players, recently revived by SSTC, is made up of area high school students that have a passion for the performing arts. They will debut with SSTC for this show.

“‘Into the Woods’ is being put on by a brand new organization to SSTC that is open exclusively to high school students,” Michael Koester said. “The Protean Players was a group that existed in New Ulm sometime around the early 2000s. This group produced high-school led productions out of the old Holy Trinity Middle School auditorium and was mostly Cathedral and New Ulm Public students. This time around, we have opened auditions up to students from any local high school. This year, we have students from New Ulm Public, Cathedral and Cedar Mountain taking part. In the future, we’d like to see the numbers of schools involved expand.

“It is such a great opportunity for high school students to work with students from other high schools in putting on a production as well as allowing them a chance at roles that may otherwise be filled with adults auditioning.”

Waibel echoed the excitement in getting more youth involved on the SSTC stage.

“We have an all high school cast, which is a first for SSTC,” Waibel said. “But we all thought it would be a great idea to generate more youth involvement, especially with the main stage musical ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’ having a smaller, more mature cast of characters.”

Braydon Hoffmann and Jacob Haugen rehearse a scene for “Into the Woods,” coming to State Street Theater Co. on Aug. 13.

Michael Koester said that this musical is also a great chance to show off several talented young actors and actresses equally.

“It was recently made into a movie so a lot of people are fans of the music and storyline,” he said. “It is also a great show to do because the parts are much more equal than in other shows. Most of the characters in the show have solos or small parts in a number of songs. It’s a great way to feature a large number of cast members in more than ensemble roles.”

“Little Shop of Horrors,” the previous show at SSTC in July, was a big hit and the hopes are high for “Into the Woods.”

“The turnout for ‘Little Shop’ was spectacular,” Waibel said. “We had a packed house every performance — the community really turned out to support the show now that the theater is up and running again. ‘Into The Woods’ will be the fourth show at the theater since restrictions were eased.”

“Into the Woods” will run about 2 1/2 hours with a 15-minute intermission.

Sam Schotzko and Jace Addy sing during rehearsals of “Into the Woods” at SSTC.

SSTC is no longer required to enforce masks or social distancing, but the auditorium seats around 800 people, so there will be ample space if one still wishes to maintain social distancing.

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