The legendary composer and lyricist of musical theater Stephen Sondheim and great author James Lapine's masterly and multi-awarded musical Into the Woods premieres in Greece in a big production of the Greek National Opera's Alternative Stage. A dark coming-of-age fairy tale, full of enrapturing melodies, constant overturns, disarming humour and an emotive atmosphere, Into the Woods comes to the GNO Alternative Stage at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, in the approved version for piano and percussion, in two cycles, from 8 February 2020 for seven performances (8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16/2) and from 13 May 2020 for five more runs (13, 14, 15, 16, 17/5).
The musical direction and music teaching are by conductor Stathis Soulis, and the direction and translation bear the stamp of Dimitris Bogdanos, one of the most charismatic and creative composers in his generation. Lyrics are translated by Julia Diamantopoulou.
Into the Woods, the musical, first premiered at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego in 1986 and has since then enjoyed a spectacular trajectory thanks to its unsurpassable music and its masterly libretto. It was honoured with three Tony awards in 1988 and triumphed on Broadway and West End. It was also transferred to the big screen by Rob Marshal in 2014 and still continues to enchant audiences across the world with its constant anniversary revivals.
Who's afraid of the big bad woods?
The most recognizable characters of Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault and the Walt Disney culture get deeply lost into the woods of their desires, wishes, and consequences of their choices, breaking down the deeply rooted «happily ever after» stereotypes, in a «fairy tale» that sounds nothing like a lullaby. Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and his beanstalk and Rapunzel are all involved in a dark story with interlocking parts which diverts them from their familiar paths and has an unexpected twist, exactly as in real life. With Stephen Sondheim's unique music as a vehicle, the distinguished creator who has won Oscar, Tony, Grammy, Pulitzer and Laurence Olivier awards, and James Lapine's unconventional text, the show aims at using the stage power of musical to reintroduce a masterpiece in its genre, while raising a political question: Why when we reach what the social models suggest as the seemingly ideal, we still fail to be happy and complete? Why do we spend irrationally large amounts of energy on desires that are not even our own?
Once upon a time or perhaps, never in any time?
In the Greek premiere of Into the Woods on the GNO Alternative Stage, under the musical direction of Stathis Soulis, Dimitris Bogdanos directs from the inside out this famous modular anti-fairy tale, shedding darkness upon the fake flickering light of the eternally archetypical «tale-telling illusion». Along with a group of excellent performers, musicians and technicians, he sets up an abstract and handcrafted meta-musical that is nothing like the contrived bedazzlement stereotypes, overturning through its peculiar direction rhythm deeply rooted perceptions both about the show and the key missteps of modern-day life -human branches, parental paths, love clearings, professional spells. «Using grandma's closet as a dressing room, and several elements-spooks from the repositories of our childhood as stage set, the responsibility of the narration becomes collective: under the pressure of literal and inner giants, wolves and princesses, «the apple tree and its fruit» attempt to measure themselves against their fears in a condition of emotional recycling, hoping for a rebirth. In this context, through the carefully selected props, today, on the Alternative Stage a multitude of historic productions of the Greek National Opera will be revived, and will become altogether the tiles of a fascinating mosaic of «previous» and «next» lives, for a new «now». Towers from past castles of the Sleeping Beauty, the dress of Rossini's Cinderella, the jacket of a past Prince, and even real transfer cases from productions with archetypical heroes of Opera and Ballet transformed into paradoxical magic boxes, are set up anew before the viewer for a renegotiation», notes the director. «Through a labyrinthine journey to the inner shadows, Into the Woods seems like a dense, redemptive night under the sun. The spotlight sheds darkness instead of light, yet it makes everything inside you shine. Slaps are sometimes loud and other times silent. Childhood traumas become reconciled with the pain of the coming of age and when it is time for «The end» you already know that when you are a child you are afraid of getting lost in the woods. When you are an adult you wish you would.».
Sets and costumes by Lina Pigadioti; movement coaching by Konstaninos Kounellas; lighting by Sakis Birbililis.
The taxing role of the Witch is interpreted by the popular actress and singer Nadia Kontogeorgi, one of the most gifted performers in her generation. Alongside her a talented cast: Hara Kefala, Apostolis Psychramis, Maria Grampsa, Daphne David, Lefteris Kalpaktsidis, Ioannis Kontellis, Thanos Lekkas, Danai Moutsopoulou, Dimitris Bogdanos, Olga Papakonstantinou and Lydia Tzanoudaki.
Presented by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe): www.mtishows.eu
Stathis Soulis Conductor, Courtier
One of the upcoming Greek conductors, he started studying music at the age of four. He continued his studies at the Department of Music Studies of the Ionian University (orchestra conducting under Miltos Logiadis). He has cooperated with numerous ensembles and organizations such as Athens Municipality Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of Ionian University, Contemporary Music Orchestra of Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation, Athens State Orchestra, Greek National Opera, Athens Concert Hall, as well as Athens Festival. He appeared as conductor of chamber music ensembles at the International Congress ICMC / SMC (Onassis Stegi), conducted the National Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (re-opening concert, 2015), gave concerts with the Contemporary Music Orchestra of Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation and jazz pianist / composer Dimitris Kalantzis (SNFCC) and conducted the ARTéfacts ensemble - Ventus ensemble (Athens Festival). He conducted the musical Sweeney Todd (Athens Concert Hall), he made his debut at the GNO with the opera Simon Boccanegra (2019). He conducted and played the piano touring with singer Marios Frangoulis in Greece and abroad.
Dimitris Bogdanos Director, Narrator, Mysterious man
He graduated from the Department of Fine Arts and Art Sciences (University of Ioannina) and the New Hellenic Theatre Drama School. He continued postgraduate studies at the Central Saint Martins - University of the Arts and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (London). Moreover, he attended courses in musical at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, choreography at The Place, and in physical theatre (HB Studio, SITI Company). Since 2018 he has been studying at the School of Fine Arts. He has directed various performances in London and Athens, such as Daphnis + Chloe, Mon Petit Prince, Orpheus & Eurydice, Andy, Bill and Lou in various theatres such as Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus, Municipal Theatre of Piraeus, Cochrane Theatre, Thessaloniki Concert Hall, Neos Kosmos Theatre. He has worked as a performer in theatre, cinema, television, at the opera The Consul in London, at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games - Athens 2004, at the Tracking Shot (dir. Pete Brooks) and in performances of the Spira-Spira music-theatrical ensemble. He teaches theatre in adolescents and he is Head of Theatre Studies in CGS IB Diploma. In 2014 he represented Greece in the Young Cultural Innovators of the World in Salzburg World Forum. In 2017 he was invited with a scholarship at the monthly Directors Lab of the Lincoln Center, New York.
Julia Diamantopoulou Lyrics rendition
She has studied business administration (Athens University of Economics and Business, 2000/04), marketing (MSc, advanced marketing management, Lancaster University, 2004/05) and theatre (Advanced Professional Drama School «Embros», 2009/12). During the last decade she has been actively involved with theatre and writing. Since 2017 she has been a collaborator of the Young People's Stage of the National Theatre, Athens. At the same time she works as an actor and animator for young groups and writes for the press. Moreover, she translates, adapts and writes plays. In 2018 she wrote the lyrics for The Prince and the Poor, the main children's play of the National Theatre to music by Angelos Triantafyllou. She has two children and in her personal time she studies and writes poetry.
Lina Pigadioti Sets, costumes
She graduated from the Parsons School of Art & Design (Paris) and attended classes at the Central Saint Martins (London) in 1990. In 2013 she completed a cycle of seminars in contemporary art at the Sotheby's Institute of Art (New York) and in 2014 a masterclass in engraving at the Columbia University (New York). After 18 years working in the field of magazines as a fashion editor, she continues her artistic career, taking on the visual curating, set design and the creative design of events and thematic experiences. At the same time she presents her work in exhibitions in Greece and abroad.
Konstantinos Kounellas Movement
He graduated from the Drama School of the Athens Conservatory and he is a senior of the Department of History & Philosophy of Science (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens). As an actor he has collaborated with such directors as Thomas Moschopoulos, Yannis Kakleas, Konstantinos Rigos, Dimitris Bogdanos, Angelos Mendis, Vassilis Andreou in productions of the Athens Festival (2011, 2014), National Theatre (Athens), Municipal Theatre of Piraeus, Neos Kosmos Theatre, etc. He was director's assistant at the performance Leontios and Lena by Cornelius Selamsis (dir. Argyris Xafis, Athens Festival, 2016), Orpheus and Eurydice, Dance Lesson, Daphnis and Chloe (dir. Dimitris Bogdanos, 2017/18 and Athens Festival 2019). In 2015 with Christina Garbi and Vassilis Safos co-founded the theatrical group «t r i s», in which he participates as a director and actor. They have presented the works The Soldier's Tale, Michael Kolhaas and Zemphyra or The Secret of Pasiphae (Athens Festival, 2018).
Sakis Birbilis Lighting
Lighting designer, passionately devoted to theatrical and musical productions since 1996. He has begun his professional career working along with Emmy award winner lighting designer Eleftheria Deko. Since then he has designed the lighting for more than 300 theatrical plays.
Daphne David Stepmother, Cinderella’s Mother, Grandmother, Giant woman
Born and raised in Athens, she graduated from the Veaki Drama School and the Department of Psychology of the Panteion University of Athens. She is studying classical singing under George Samartzis. At the same time, she has been trained in systemic psychotherapy at the Athenian Institute of Anthropos, as well as in educative drama at the Porta Theatre (Athens), where she is a permanent collaborator. In theatre, she has collaborated with the director Odysseas Papaspiliopoulos in the work Master Class (Dimitris Horn Theatre). Since 2018 she has been collaborating with Thomas Moschopoulos, Υannis Bezos, Lydia Koniordou, Pandelis Dendakis, Angelos Mendis, Vassilis Koukalani, George Paloumbis, Vassilis Mavrogeorgiou, Sergios Gakas, Roula Pateraki, etc. She has participated in performances at the National Theatre, Porta Theatre, Neos Kosmos Theatre, etc. At the same time, she works as a psychotherapist privately with children, adolescents, adults and groups. She teaches the course «Theatrical game and encouragement in treatment with children and adolescents» at the Systemic Institute of Cyprus.
Maria Grampsa Jack's mother
Born in Athens, she holds a diploma in piano (class of K. Charalambopoulou) and solo singing (class of D. Kalafatis). She is a graduate of the Law School of Athens. She studied acting, breathing, movement, improvisation, masking and techniques of music theatre performance (Theatre of Changes, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London). During 2000/06 she collaborated with the GNO as a chorus member (Acropol Theatre, οperetta). As a member of the vocal trio SoNaMa and as a soloist she has participated in concerts, music productions, recitals, collaborating with numerous cultural venues and organizations (Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation Music Ensembles, Orchestra of Colours, Mikis Theodorakis Orchestra) and in various recordings. She has performed in many musicals such as Demons (dir. G. Kakleas), The Sound of Music (dir. Th. Marsellou), Chicago (dir. S. Fassoulis), Fiddler on the Roof (dir. R. Ruggiero), etc. During 2006/11 she worked for the Pallas Theatre-Elliniki Theamaton (stage guiding, production).
Eleftherios Kalpaktsidis Jack, Giant woman
Born in Thessaloniki, he studied piano and music theory (degree in harmony). He also studied at the State Conservatory of Thessaloniki and from 2018 he is a student of Charikleia Glavopoulou. During 2017/18 he sang the role of Tamino in Mozart's The Magic Flute directed by Carmen Rouggeri at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall. In December 2018 his music work Civitas Libera was presented by the Thessaloniki City Symphony Orchestra. In April 2019, in collaboration with the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, he presented his music work The Fount of Beauty. He was a member of the Mixed Choir of Thessaloniki and the vocal ensemble Contradition Ensemble, for which he has done harmonization and transcriptions. He was awarded in competitions of composition of the Greek Literary Union and the Youth Parliament of Greece. He attended seminars in classical singing with Aris Christofellis and Patrice Forget and orchestral conducting courses under Michalis Economou and Athanassia Kyriakidou.
Hara Kefala Baker’s wife
She studied music theatre at the Arts Educational School and the Urdang Academy in London. She holds a degree in singing, piano, music theory and a classical dancing diploma. She has performed at the National Theatre, Athens, as well as with a number of independent theatre troupes in collaboration with major directors. As a soloist, she has worked with symphonic orchestras in Greece and abroad (Athens State Orchestra, Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra, Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of Colours, Jyv?skyl? Sinfonia, Beijing Opera Symphony Orchestra, Municipality of Athens Big Band), at the Athens Concert Hall, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Thessaloniki Concert Hall, Greek National Opera, Beijing Concert Hall, etc. She has recorded works by Dimitris Papadimitriou, Nikos Mamangakis, Thanos Mikroutsikos, Eugenia Manolidou, etc. In 2008 she released her first personal album entitled Doing Fine... at the Foyer. She has starred in Greek television series. She taught vocal-theatrical singing at the Drama School of the National Theatre. Since 2018 she teaches at the Drama School of the George Armenis New Greek Theatre.
Nadia Kondogeorgi Witch
She graduated from the Drama School of the National Theatre, Athens, while at the same time she studied at the Law School of Athens. She has attended acting classes at the Harvard University, Boston. She studied singing (diploma) and till today she has been continuing her studies in dance and music. In addition she has participated in various television productions, while she starred in numerous performances in theatre such as Thesmophoriazusai, Matilda, Notre-Dame de Paris, In search of Attik, Vouva, Sweeney Todd, Gala, Seven Against Thebes, Die Dreigroschenoper, The Sound of Music, Κiss Μe, Κate, Lysistrata, Things and Wonders, Sugar - Some Like It Hot, I'll Take You to Leave, Chicago, The Clouds, Rent, Go Sleep, If I'm Late, Schenobates, Tonight Let's Have Dinner at Jocasta's, Twelfth Night, The Producers and Fiddler on the Roof.
Ioannis Kontellis Lucinda, Milky-white, Prince of Rapunzel, Giant woman
Actor and baritone, he graduated from the Μusic School of Mytilene with distinctions in regional and Pan-Hellenic artistic student competitions, as well as from the Department of Music Science and Art (University of Macedonia, specialization in singing). He also studied advanced music theory. Moreover, he studied at the Drama School Modern Theatre-Vassilis Diamantopoulos with scholarship and at the Rontidis Drama School. As a solοist, beside concerts, he takes part in music and theatre performances and has participated in cinema and television productions. He collaborates with the On Stage musical team, he works for the musical preparation of children's theatrical performances and lends his voice to radio productions and recordings. As a baritone, he collaborates in concerts, among others, with the Chorus of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation, the MeIZoN male vocal ensemble, the ensemble of ancient Greek music Orfia Armonia, while he participates in opera productions in collaboration with the Greek National Opera Chorus. He worked voluntarily as a member of the scientific committee for the evaluation of the recordings of the non-profit network «Reading to Others».
Thanos Lekkas Florinda, Wolf, Cinderella’s prince
He studied at the Department of Biology of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and acting at the Drama School of the Athens Conservatory. He collaborated with the directors Argyris Xafis (The Views of a Clown), Lydia Koniordou (Hippolytus, National Theatre), Pemi Zouni (Liberation Organization - Klein Mein), Sophia Paschou (Catching A Shoe on the Piano, Νose and Snow at the Porta Theatre and Theogοnia at the Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus), with Thomas Moschopoulos (Trial of K and Fahrenheit 47, Porta Theatre), Dimitris Bogdanos (The Little Prince, Municipal Theatre of Piraeus), Lilo Baur (The Girl Who is Falling, Falling, Falling..., Athens Festival), Akyllas Karazisis (The Mikado, Alternative Stage of the Greek National Opera) and Euripides Laskaridis (Elenit, Onassis Stegi).
Danae Moutsopoulou Cinderella, Giant woman
Born and raised in Athens, she is a graduate of the Athens Law School (2015) and the Dilos Drama School (2019). She speaks English, French and Spanish. She attended piano, theory, solfège and song lessons at the Greek Conservatory, Athens. She also participated in the performance Memorial (dir. Alexandra Kazazou) at the Alcmene theatre, the Alfa Idea theatre and the Thessalian Theatre. The same performance in 2019 was hosted at the Grotowski Institute - Na Grobli Studio, where she also participated in intensive physical theatre seminars.
Olga Papakonstantinou Rapunzel
She was born in Larissa, where she studied piano and music theory. She studied singing under Christina Yannakopoulou at the Athenaeum Conservatory (diploma with honours and first prize) and at the School of Music Studies of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She also graduated from the Centre for Early Music of the Athens Conservatory, where she studied the vocal music of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque era with Aris Christofellis, Dimitris Kountouras and Iason Marmaras. As a soloist and a member of vocal ensembles (Centre for Early Music, Capella Sancti Pauli, Armonia Atenea, etc), she performed at the Athens Concert Hall, Music Library of Greece Lilian Voudouri, Third Programme of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation, etc. In 2019 she collaborated with the Greek National Opera as an additional chorister in the production of Don Carlo. She has attended seminars of lyrical song with Dimitri Kavrakos, Michael Chance, Chantal Santon-Jeffery, Nicolas Vassiliou, etc.
Apostolis Psychramis Baker
Born in Athens in 1979, first of his seven brothers. Since he was six years old he started studying classical guitar and choral song, thanks to his meeting with Dimitris Typaldos. He graduated from the Musical High School of Pallini. He studied acting at the Mary Voyatzis Traga Drama School and he holds diploma in voice under Panos Dimas. He collaborated with the National Theatre, National Theatre of Northern Greece, Athens Festival, Αrmonia Atenea, etc. In recent years he has been consistently collaborating in theatre with Patari Project team.
Lydia Tzanoudaki Little red riding hood, Cow
She graduated from the Department of Communication and Media Studies of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and the Drama School of the Athens Conservatory. She has collaborated with Aris Biniaris, Stathis Livathinos, Thodoris Abazis, Lydia Koniordou, Dimitris Bogdanos, Vassilis Mavrogeorgiou, Panagiotis Fafoutis, etc. in productions for the National Theatre, Skrow Theatre, Municipal and Regional Theatre of Patras, Cyprus Theatre Organization and the Athens and Epidaurus Festival.