Monument Mountain students, boosters rebound and rebuild to present 'Into the Woods' this weekend


GREAT BARRINGTON -- Following the show business adage, "The show must go on," Monument Mountain Regional High School's spring musical program is back even after most of its staging equipment was lost last summer following a controversial administrative decision.

From Thursday through Sun-
day, two casts of students will perform "Into the Woods" thanks to boosters who spent long hours replacing the equipment and building new sets. Shows, which will take place in the school auditorium, are at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Sunday's matinee begins at 2:30. Tickets cost $10.

"I think we've gotten rid of our anger and we are moving on," said Linnea Mace, the spring musical director. "We are seeing we can do it and we did do it ... by being creative and figuring things out. We are back on top again."

A significant threat arose last July when district administrators approved the throwing away of equipment stored in the stage pit and around the stage, citing building safety concerns. The material had been collected over the course of 15 years and boosters estimated the value of the materials at $20,000.

Principal Marianne Young had urged the boosters to remove the equipment following last spring's musical season, but the boosters then asked for a meeting to further discuss that request -- a meeting that would later be canceled by Young.

In July, Young asked Steve Soules, the district's director of buildings operations, to throw away some of the after-school program's musical props.

Young said she ordered some, but not all of the material to be thrown away; the boosters say Soules overstepped his authority and threw away the bulk of it.

To recover from the setback, the boosters say they've spent eight-hour days each weekend for the last two months creating a new set to match the quality of productions from years past. They also borrowed and rented equipment from other surrounding stage companies that include Williamstown Theatre Festival and Pittsfield's Barr-
ington Stage Company.

"We were all concerned about a compromise of the quality on set," booster Ronald Piazza said. "We know there is nothing like a Monument Mountain play."

"Into the Woods" is a story with a fairy tale cast that includes Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and characters of other beloved fables who learn a valuable lesson about teamwork and community.

The setting required a core of four volunteers to make prop trees out of plywood, and a 32-foot-by-20-foot mural; live sap-
lings will also be set around the auditorium to create the feeling of a forest.

"It really looks like something Tim Burton would have created," Piazza said, referring to the famous creatively dark film director.

On Monday, the 55-student production was performed pro bono for senior citizens. Piazza described the performance as "fantastic, wonderful. It came together just great."

"[The students] love having a great set. It elevates the whole performance, and they know it. They love being part of it because the artistic expressions help them to be better actors and they get into it when the set looks cool as well," he said.

To reach John Sakata:,
or (413) 496-6240.
On Twitter: @jsakata

If you go ...

What: Monument Mountain Regional High School's musical program performs, "Into the Woods."

When: Thursday, March 27 through Sunday, March 30. Performances will start at 7:30 p.m., except on Sunday when it will be 2:30 p.m.

Where: Monument Mountain Regional High School auditorium.

Cost: $10.


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