Live children’s theater returns to RI this weekend with Into the Woods Jr.


BURRILLVILLE – After almost two years dark, the Assembly Theatre in Harrisville will be opening its doors to the public for Inspiration Performing Arts Company’s teen intensive production of “Into the Woods Jr.” 

A local organization with a mission of providing performing arts opportunities to underserved members of the community, Inspiration Performing Arts Company has teamed up with the Patrons of the Assembly Theatre to offer a teen production this summer.

It marks an exciting return to the stage for the young actors after replacement efforts that didn’t quite match the real experience.

In order to keep the arts relevant and alive throughout the pandemic, IPAC continued to offer virtual performances with productions of the “Wizard of Oz” in partnership with Fantasy Factory and Advanced Production and Design in January of 2021, and “Godspell” in May of 2021.

“With the virtual stuff you lose that connection with the audience – that’s what makes theater special,” said IPAC Founder and Executive Director Emily Garven. “We serve the underserved in the arts and right now, after children have gone so long without the opportunity to perform and express themselves on stage amongst their peers, we felt that it was imperative that we offer a teen musical this summer.”

Asked how it feels to be back in the theater, Garven said, “It’s so nice to be able to feel that energy and have that shared experience.”

Garven said working on the production has brought back both the community spirit and the organized chaos that only live theater can offer, elements missing from the group’s smaller virtual shows.

“There’s so many little things you forget,” said Garven. We have so many people working on this, and you really get that sense of community. It’s one of those thing you don’t even realize you miss.”

The production has been a group effort bringing together many talented people in the community and combining their skills and resources to bring theater back to the public.

The production is directed by Alex Duprey of North Providence with music directed by Gian DiCostanzo of Lincoln. Costumes were done by Wendy Curran, and set design and painting by Fred Fortier, Ken Fix, Mike Scott, and Shannon Fix. Stage management and technical directing fell to Kyle Eldridge and Sara Tuohy.

The production will run August 6-8 at the Assembly Theatre. Performers from across Massachusetts and Rhode Island were selected through an open audition to join the cast of this production.

“It has been an absolute pleasure directing this production,” said Duprey, a recent musical theater graduate from Marymount Manhattan College. “My favorite part of being a theater educator is helping kids gain confidence, skills, and creating an inclusive and safe environment for them. I have seen the cast grow so much throughout this process and we have had so much fun bringing this show to life together.” 

Holly Dumaine-Picard, executive chairperson of the Patrons said the show is a perfect way to re-open the Assembly Theatre to the public, while at the same time supporting another local theatre organization.

“The whole experience is magic and it is great to see everyone join together to accomplish creating musical theatre safely during this challenging time,” said Dumaine-Picard. “We look forward to our partnership with IPAC in the future.”

“We are so grateful to Holly and the Assembly Theatre for teaming up with us to continue to offer theater experiences to our community and navigate the ‘new normal’ of theater together. It is amazing what we have been able to do as a team despite all of the challenges we have faced,” said Garven. 

“The kids are really excited,” Garven added. “It has been so amazing to see these kids performing together again. Their excitement and energy is contagious and we cannot wait for the public to see the results of their hard work.” 

Garven said IPAC and the Assembly Theatre continue to monitor for COVID guidelines and recommendations to keep the cast and crew safe and healthy through the completion of the project.  

About the Musical:

Stephen Sondheim’s and James Lapine’s cockeyed fairytale comes to life in this adaptation of their groundbreaking, Tony Award-winning musical. Into the Woods JR. features all of your favorite characters; Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack – and his beanstalk – and the Witch in this lyrically rich retelling of classic Brothers Grimm fables. The production is presented through special arrangement with Musical Theater International and centers on a baker and his wife, who wish to have a child; Cinderella, who wishes to attend the King’s festival; and Jack, who wishes his cow would give milk. When the baker and his wife learn that they cannot have a child because of a witch’s curse, the two set off on a journey to break the curse, and wind up changed forever. 

Tickets can be reserved at

Cast List:

Anthony Fix, Baker – Chepachet

Keith Beck, Narrator – Smithfield

Heather Bliss, Bakers Wife – Cumberland

Emmilee Jordan, Witch – North Smithfield

Olivia Picard, Cinderella – Burrillville

Kathryn Bliss, Rapunzel – Cumberland 

Claudia Desrosiers, Little Red – Bellingham, Mass.

Ethan Kerwin, Jack – Smithfield 

James Petrich, Cinderella’s Prince – Cumberland

Evan Pomfret, Rapunzel’s Prince/Wolf – Douglas, Mass. 

Madison Highcove, Stepmother – Blackstone, Mass.

Kenzee Silva, Lucinda – Johnston

Kelsey Lindsay, Florinda – Cumberland

Katy Olson, Cinderella’s Mother – Medway, Mass.

Maia Kraskouskas, Jacks Mother – North Attleboro, Mass.

Elaina Jordan, Steward – North Smithfield

Joseph Juneau, Mysterious Man/Cinderella’s Father – Harrisville

Isabella Stearns, Granny – Bellingham, Mass.

Isabella Nunes, Milky White – Johnston

This production is proudly sponsored by Sunburst Shutters & Window Fashions, Lezaola Thomson Insurance, Ye Old English Fish and Chips, Salon XO, and APAD. 

This is just the beginning of bringing theater back to the community for these organizations. IPAC will be holding auditions for their traveling performing arts troupe this fall as well as announcing registration for their special needs theater program, “Sharing the Spotlight.” Shortly after the performances of “Into the Woods Jr,” the Assembly Theatre will be presenting their in-house musical production of “Junie B. Jones” opening Friday, Aug. 27 through Sunday, Aug. 28. Tickets for “Junie B. Jones” and other Assembly events can be found at

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