VHS Grads Bring ‘Into The Woods’ To Montclair Stage

By on October 23, 2018

“Into The Woods” features Kevin Ohlweiler as Jack, and is directed by Ben Liebert.

Ben Liebert, Brian Michalowski and Kevin Ohlweiler–all three graduates of Verona High School–will have a hand in bringing the Stephen Sondheim musical “Into The Woods” to Montclair next month. The musical, which will be the main stage opener at Studio Playhouse, is Sondheim’s exploration of what might happen if the wishes in fairy tales really did come true.

Ohlweiler, who graduated VHS with the class of 2010, will play the roles of both Jack and the Steward. Performances run Friday to Sunday evenings from November 2 to 17 at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m..

Liebert, a 2003 graduate of VHS, is the director of “Into the Woods”, and he is fresh off a New York City run of a Yiddish-language production of “Fiddler On The Roof” (“Fidler Afn Dakh”), where he had the coveted role of the shy tailor Motl Kamzoyl. Liebert has re-imagined “Into The Woods” in a soon-to-be shuttered children’s library, and uses it to explore the musical’s themes of childhood, nostalgia, personal responsibility and the formative stories that inform them.

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Michalowski, a 2005 graduate of VHS and a music teacher at H.B. Whitehorne Middle School since 2010, will be the show’s musical director. He and Liebert were in band and choir together at VHS and a handful of plays. He also played Dr. Parker in “Bat Boy the Musical”, a show that Liebert directed in his senior year at VHS.

“Brian works at H.B. Whitehorne as the band director so when I was looking for a music director, he was recommended to me,” Liebert says. “And everything just clicked. We have a similar esthetic, sensibility and work ethic that have to come from working with the same directors and band teachers as we grew up. It makes this project just a real joy — and a blast from the past.”

Tickets for “Into The Woods” are $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors (discounts available for prepaid groups of 20 or more). Opening night tickets are buy 1, get one 1 free. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 973-744-9752. Studio Playhouse is located at 14 Alvin Place, off Valley Road near the Acme in Upper Montclair.

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UPDATE: There’s one more recent VHS grad involved with this production. Erik Fox, a classmate of Liebert’s who is now a professional lighting director in Boston, is also collaborating in the show.

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