So, what is Into the Woods all about? It’s a fantasy that brings a few different story-lines together in a forest.

No, what is Into the Woods really all about? It’s about artistic expression, release and uniting local people for common good.

It’s about local community theater.

The Lebanon Community Theatre kicks off its 57th season of local entertainment today with its interpretation of Into the Woods, on Thursday, February 7th. Tonight’s 7:30pm opening night curtain raise will be followed by seven more performances of the musical fantasy over the next ten days.

“Community theater is a way for people to come together and share talents,” said Into the Woods director Kevin Biddle. “It builds friendships and relationships. I know this sounds like a cliché, but the cast really becomes like a family. I’m a huge advocate of the arts and community.”

Kevin Biddle, director of the production, stops for a photo inside the Lebanon Community Theatre. (Jeff Falk)

“I love this space,” said Biddle of the one-time barn that houses LCT. “This is a really nice, intimate theater. It’s a place that seems to attract different people. It really is community theater.”

The two-act play is being performed by a cast of 19 amateur actors and actresses, and is supported by an orchestra of 12 musicians. Members of the cast vary in age and reside in Lebanon and surrounding counties.

“It’s an ensemble show,” said Biddle. “There are lead characters, but everybody has a plot and lines. It’s a big musical, even though it’s a smaller cast. It’s a theater-people type of show.

“All these folks have full-time jobs,” added Biddle. “It’s 100 percent commitment. There’s a lot of time involved.”

Opening night is the culmination of eight weeks of difficult collaboration between actors, stage crew and director. It’s a process that began before the Holidays, one which included auditions, casting, memorizing lines and lyrics and rehearsals.

All the unseen stuff that goes on behind the scenes.

“It’s nerve-racking for sure,” said Biddle, a veteran director who has headed over a hundred productions at various venues. “It’s a very stressful process. It’s like running a marathon. You give your all, but you’ve got to pace yourself and then there’s a race to the finish.

“Any director goes through that panic, ‘The show’s not ready, but it’s ready,’” Biddle continued. “You’re always questioning yourself, ‘Why did I do it that way?’ This is live theater. Things are going to go wrong. You’ve got to think on your feet.”

The plot intertwines the tales of a handful of familiar characters and their hopes and dreams for better lives. But at its core, it’s about the human condition and empathy and assisting one another on our shared journeys.

Into the Woods is based on a book by James Lapine and includes music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

“The basis of the story is fairy tales intertwined together, and they meet in the forest,” said Biddle. “The message of the show is community and how our decisions impact everyone. Even though it’s a fairy tale show, it’s for adults. It’s a mature story.

“I definitely like the idea of a pebble being thrown into water, there’s a ripple effect and it affects other people,” Biddle continued. “It’s good to be nice to each other, and we can all benefit from community.”

The cast features:

  • Rick Kopecky as Jack
  • Sophia Rueda as Little Red Riding Hood
  • Rick Graybill as the Baker
  • Ashley Oyster as the Baker’s Wife
  • Denise Young as the Witch
  • Marissa Keener as Cinderella
  • Jason Capello as Cinderella’s Prince/ The Wolf
  • Emma Peyton as Florinda
  • Carrie McFeaters as Lucinda
  • Darlene Hein as Jack’s Mother
  • Larry Sheaf as the Narrator /the Mysterious Man
  • Elisabeth Putt as Rapunzel
  • Steve Miller as Rapunzel’s Prince
  • Tom Bowman as Cinderella’s Father
  • Jodi Loose as Cinderella’s Mother/ The Granny/ The Giant
  • Ben Kapp as the Steward
  • Abigail Simiele as Snow White
  • Ashley Winkler as Sleeping Beauty

“These are regular, everyday people,” said Biddle. “You sit next to them in church. They’re lawyers, teachers and stay-at-home moms. They’re people from every walk of life, who want to get involved in community theater.”

A look at the cast of Into the Woods. (Jeff Falk)

Tickets for the show are priced at $15 and $18 for students and $18 and $22 for adults. Lebanon Community Theater is located at East Maple Street and Theatre Drive in Lebanon, directly east of Stoever’s Dam Park.

Matinees will held at 2pm on Sunday February 10 and 17. Evening shows begin at 7:30pm on February 7-9 and February 14-16.

For additional information call 717-833-4528, or go to

“I really hope when the audience leaves the theater, they look at the people on stage and know how talented they are,” said Biddle. “I hope they’re like, ‘Wow. I just saw a pretty amazing show in a barn in Lebanon County.’ I also hope they get the message of the play, the idea of community. It’s about making your wishes come true.”

And isn’t that what local community theater is all about?

Jeff Falk is a seasoned journalist based in Lebanon, PA. He's a graduate of Cedar Crest High School, Penn State University, and a lifelong resident of Lebanon, born and raised. Currently, he is a feature writer for Engle Publishing in Lancaster, the editor of, sports director at WLBR...


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