Beaverton Civic Theatre’s “Into the Woods” grants wish for mother-daughter acting duo

Beth Noelle embodies the electrifying role of the witch in the Beaverton Civic Theatre's production of "Into the Woods," premiering Friday, Oct. 3, 2014.
Olivia Noelle plays Little Red Riding Hood.
Essie Canty Bertain, left, plays Cinderella, and Olivia Noelle, right, portrays Little Red Riding Hood in the Beaverton Civic Theatre's production of "Into the Woods." (Photos by Ammon Riley)
By Anna Marum | amarum@oregonian.com
October 02, 2014

For Beth Noelle and her daughter Olivia Noelle, landing their parts in the upcoming Beaverton Civic Theatre production of "Into the Woods" seemed an act of fate eight years in the making.

Starting Friday, Oct. 3, Beth, 47, will embody the electrifying role of the witch, and Olivia, 17, will play Little Red Riding Hood in the 1980s Stephen Sondheim musical, which weaves several of the most popular Grimm fairytales into a new story.

The show will bring the duo full-circle, back to when they first had a taste of the award-winning musical.

In 2006, the Noelles lived in Port Townsend, Washington, and Beth was looking for a constructive way to cope with the recent death of her mother. So she called up the local high school and asked if they needed any help with their production of "Into the Woods." She could play the piano, she suggested.

They took her up on her offer, and soon Beth was immersed in a 3-month string of rehearsals. Olivia, about 9 at the time, often tagged along to watch.

Like the original Grimm fairytales, Sondheim's musical tackles heavy themes, including death, and the grief and healing that follows. Beth said her participation in the 2006 musical was cathartic, and helped her come to terms with her own loss.

Over the course of the weeks of rehearsals, Beth, a Sunset High School graduate who had performed in a musical there as a youth, began to appreciate the role of the witch. Meanwhile, Olivia, who had memorized the entire musical by the time rehearsals ended, hoped to someday play the part of Little Red Riding Hood.

"So it kind of turned into, 'Wouldn't it be cool if we could do this show together? Someday, she could be Little Red and I could be the witch,'" Beth recalled. "So we've kind of been waiting for the right circumstance to appear and here we are, doing it, and it's so fun."

The Noelles, currently living in Southwest Portland, will now get to share the stage in the roles they've wanted to play for years, along with what Beth called a talented cast of smart musicians.

While Olivia said they fell in love with the musical, rather than the idea of starring in it together, the new round of rehearsals has brought them closer, though the two have a strong connection in the first place.

Beth said she and her daughter help each other fine-tune their performances, and often talk about the underlying themes of the musical.

Olivia ticked off these themes: "Mortality, learning and growing ..."

"Just life," Beth added. "The stuff that happens in life and how you deal with it."

The musical is especially timely for audiences, as the Disney adaptation of the musical will hit theaters on Christmas. But where the movie version might gloss over the aforementioned heavy themes, the Beaverton Civic Theatre production will stay true to Sondheim's vision, Beth said.

"If you really want to see the pure version of 'Into the Woods,' this is an excellent opportunity to see how it was originally intended," Beth said. "... Come see the show. It's a great show. Come into the woods with us and have an adventure with us."

-- Anna Marum

Check it out
Beaverton Civic Theatre's production of "Into the Woods" premieres at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3 and runs on weekends through Saturday, Oct. 18. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, students and groups, and $5 for kids 10 and under.
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. The box office opens 30 minutes prior to showtime.
For more information, and to buy tickets, visit beavertoncivictheatre.org.

Article originally published at http://s.oregonlive.com/YEgAwjc

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