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High School Project’s Into the Woods Lovingly Finds its Way to a Happy Ending at the Grand Theatre



Winding its way through these amazingly youth-talented woods, the 2022 High School Project has done this show proud, bringing to life Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s magnificent (and complicated) Into the Woods at the Grand Theatrein London, Ontario with a simple joy and excitement that is utterly infectious. It’s gloriously uplifting, these woods, seeing all of these high school students, so full of energy and talent, skip this renowned and much-loved youth mentorship program back to the stage with such vigor after two years of online programming. And it couldn’t have found a better spell to cast. “You wish to have the curse reversed?” Well, this proud return for the High School Project has all the ingredients it needs. It is both joyful and insightful, overflowing with a sublime youthful energy as the production and the organization opens up the world of theatre to a whole new audience with this adept staging of Into the Woods on the Grand Theatre‘s main stage, playing from September 20th to October 1st, 2022.

Isaac Szoldatits (center) with the student cast of High School Project‘s Into the Woods at the Grand Theatre, London, ON. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

Brought to majestic life by a determined cast of dedicated and talented students, both on stage and in the equally important roles behind the scenes, such as stage management, props, wardrobe, scenic art, orchestra, donor relations, and entertainment marketing, this production of Into the Woods flies strong and high. It’s completely entertaining and worthy of the standing ovation it received when I saw it a few days ago thanks to director Saccha Dennis (Mirvish’s Come From Away) who finds a unique pathway and perspective in the reading room of a library, delivering a production that is both gleefully book-wormy, proud, and wonderfully wicked.

Cindy Li, Miguel Constantin Mandapat, and Will Cramp with the student cast of High School Project‘s Into the Woods at the Grand Theatre. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

Staged with insight and fun by set designer Holly Meyer-Dymny (Hart House’s Legally Blond), lighting designer Louise Guinand (Factory Theatre’s The Monument), and sound designer Emily Porter (Berkeley Stree’s Skylight) with tons and tons of help by a crew of dedicated high school students giving it their all, this enchanting production of Into the Woods finds its solid footing on a path that begins in the most perfect of settings for this show, a library. Relishing the exciting connection to the written word, a crowd of enchanted youth sit on the floor cross-legged listening intently to the Narrator, well played by Isaac Szoldatits, read with such fun fervor from his book of fairy tales.

It’s a divine beginning and a perfect set-up for this wild and wonderful adventure, with inventive costuming designed by Lisa Wright, Head of Wardrobe at the Grand, blending the look of modern wear and the essence of a fairytale, expanded and enhanced for a festive visual. It easily transports these listening kids into storybook characters wisely utilizing current culture as a guide. I mean, the Mean Girls approach to the Stepmother and her daughters is a divine creation, lead by the well and wise casting of Miguel Constantin Mandapat as the “apex preditor‘ with her minions; Aldiyana Kruzel as Lucinda and Sierra Choong as Florinda, playing a perfect blend of narcissistic and nasty. They, along with all the others lend and blend the two worlds together, giving it all a smart sassy starting point for the narrator to usher us all into the story. The main characters spring up and take their places alongside the others, easily taking over the whole two-story reading room, a magical space that brilliantly keeps expanding and growing its imaginative branches outward with aplomb until the final curtain. It’s such a fun adventure, with some very talented high school students confidently taking on some very difficult and challenging roles and delivering these characters to us strongly and confidently. It’s the perfect wish fulfilled.

Karissa Kern and Will Cramp with the student cast of High School Project‘s Into the Woods at the Grand Theatre. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

I went into the Grand Theatre happily, looking forward to seeing these high school kids embrace this great show. I must admit, I still was carrying the firmly established memory of Broadway’s latest revival of Into the Woods still dancing solidly and magnificently around my head (you can read my review here). I mean, you can’t beat a cast that includes Sara Bareilles as the Baker’s Wife, Patina Miller as the Witch, and Phillipa Soo as Cinderella. No way. No how. And I can’t wait to download the Broadway revival’s cast album that is being released today, September 30th, 2022. It will be on repeat for a long time coming.

Yet in no way did I want to walk into the Grand Theatre with an idea to contrast and compare the two. That wouldn’t be fair to anyone, including myself. But I must say, with no reservations, that overall everyone delivers with such joy in their hearts. But there are some very strong standouts in this overall exceptionally talented cast of students that I can’t help but congratulate. Most notable are the subtle and smart performances of Will Cramp as the conflicted Baker, Jasmine Darvasi as Jack’s worn-out mother, Karissa Kern as the cheeky Little Red Ridinghood, and Cindy Li as the charming Cinderella. Each of them, completely delicious and very fun to watch, but the most impressive of the lot was the very solid Stella Yanga as the Witch. In one of the most difficult parts in the piece, one that required depth and maturity, she completely blew me away both vocally and in the way she embraced the part with such assurance and charisma. Well done, one and all.

Stella Yanga and Cami Rodriguez in High School Project‘s Into the Woods at the Grand Theatre. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

Beyond a few moments when the stagecraft action was a bit too busy, like when we were continually distracted by staircase movement as Li’s Cinderella was enthralling us with her rendition of “On the Steps of the Palace“. It did her no favors, yet that’s a minor criticism in the big scheme of things, as it seems choreographer Greg Carruthers (Hart House’s Legally Blond) did find many beautiful and charming ways of gifting all the cast with action and focus, whether it be in the form of trees or milky white cows. These kids really did deliver an absolutely delightful piece of musical theatre. Sondheim and Lapine would have been proud, particularly how much they embraced the difficult themes and storylines that exist so intricately in the music, lyrics, and story being told. So grab a ticket to the High School Project’s joyful production of Into the Woods, and get yourself over to that well-designed reading room on the main stage of the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario. You will be enthralled “for those moments in the woods“.

The Grand’s High School Project production of Into the Woods is led by Saccha Dennis (Director), Patrick Bowman (Music Director), and Greg Carruthers (Choreographer). The company is comprised of a cast of 26 student performers, 15 backstage students, and three orchestra students, from grades 9 through 12 in the Thames Valley District School Board and the London Catholic District School Board.

When approaching Into the Woods, one of the greatest shows in the musical theatre canon, we knew we wanted to honour its spirit, while also presenting the show in a way that many will have never seen before,” remarks the productions Director Saccha Dennis.  “I believe that we have truly accomplished this and that our audiences will be in for a particular treat as they watch the talent of tomorrow bring this enchanting story to life – in person, and on-stage.”


Emma Bishop: Steward
Ella Brophy: Ensemble
Sierra Choong: Florinda
Miguel Constantin Mandapat: Cinderella’s Stepmother
Will Cramp: Baker
George Crosby: Ensemble
Jasmine Darvasi: Jack’s Mother
Jorja Denny: Granny + Cinderella’s Mother
Evan Doerr: Ensemble
Isabella Espanol: Ensemble
Lauren Gracey: Baker’s Wife
Karissa Kern: Little Red Ridinghood
Aldiyana Kruzel: Lucinda
Cindy Li: Cinderella
Alli Paris: Ensemble
Alex Pearce: Ensemble
Kieran Prouty: Rapunzel’s Prince
Cami Rodriguez: Rapunzel
Ryan Shaw: Wolf
Kira Shuit: Ensemble
Leo Sigut: Cinderella’s Prince
Oliver Stanton: Jack
Charlie Stimac: Mysterious Man
Isaac Szoldatits: Narrator
Stella Yanga: Witch
Lydia Zadorsky: Ensemble


Emily Alton: Stage Management
Alyssa Palma: Stage Management
Dexter Greene: Photography & Marketing
Ruthie Rennie: Sound
Matheo Van Der Mark: Props
Nadia Barakziye: Props
Riley Lindsay: Props
Kate Telfer: Props
Amy Bae: Wardrobe
Leen Chaiekh: Wardrobe
Mackenzie De Salvo Downe: Wardrobe
Ghost Vaillancourt: Wardrobe
Sarah Wu: Wardrobe
Sarena “Onyx” Nielsen: Scenic Art
Jordan Porter: Scenic Art


Berkin Alper Girgin Orchestra: Keys 1
Sophia Tanaka Orchestra: Flute

High School Project‘s Into the Woods at the Grand Theatre, London, ON. For information and tickets, click here.
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My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to


Countdown to Christmas Day: Map The Song Of Your Life



17 days to go! Every year people panic to find the perfect gift. We at T2C have been collecting idea’s all year long to bring you the perfect gift guide at all price levels. When you’re at the end of your rope trying to find the perfect Christmas present this year, come to this guide for some great suggestions.

How unique is this Spiral Song Lyric with Night Sky Map Clock.

Looking for a way to capture a meaningful day and text in one beautiful design? Grab a Personalized Star Map for you on a clock. Have questions about this design or how to personalize it for you or a gift? Message, as customer happiness is their #1 goal.

You give the company The Artist, Song Title or enter lyrics, a quote, names, address (for night sky) and the date and a spiral print will be printed showing the star map, alignment of the stars and constellations from your special day. Personally I think it is an amazing gift at $53.97 .

Free proofs are provided as well as quick edits to make sure you love your design before it’s printed. 

To personalize your night sky spiral print, click here. 

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Head To The The Algonquin Hotel For Some Holiday Cheer



As we head into the holiday season, The Algonquin Hotel’s December event lineup is open to both hotel guests and New York City locals. The hotel will spread holiday cheer with a variety of festive performances, cocktails, and experiences including:

  • Cocoa and Carols Happy Hour: Daily, 5-8PM, Every evening this December, all are invited to enjoy Specialty Cocoa while Christmas carols chime at the Blue Bar. Drinks will include Mexican Hot Chocolate spiked with mezcal
  • KT Sullivan Cabaret:  December 5th, 12th and 19th, Sullivan will perform her iconic Christmas Cabaret. As noted by The New York Times, Sullivan is a thrilling Off-Broadway performer with over eight published albums
  • Rocco Dellaneve’s Rat Pack Christmas: December 7th, 14th and 21st, Rocco Dellaneve will perform iconic songs from the Rat Pack Christmas album with special inclusions of Santa with Sinatra, Rocco of the Snow, Rudolph and the Rat pack
  • The Serafina’s and Broadway Vocalists: December 8th, 15th and 22nd, enjoy the high kicking – precision line dancing Christmas tradition around The Algonquin tree. The Serafina’s will be available for pictures and autographs from 6pm to 7pm, followed by special Broadway vocalists

A portion of proceeds from all events will be donated to Toys for Tots.

Beyond the December events, The Algonquin Hotel is located in a prime position nestled in the heart of Times Square and Fifth Avenue, making it the perfect launchpad for a New York City holiday experience. The hotel is a historical jewel that emphasizes the importance of making unique, storied experiences. Since its opening in 1902, The Algonquin Hotel is famous for its timeless style and desire to honor the literary and cultural elite. The distinguished Round Table Restaurant and Blue Bar offer tasteful dining inclusions and curated cocktails that are sure to excite everyone.

Photo credit: The Algonquin Hotel, Autograph Collection


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Celebrate Hanukkah With Manhattan’s Favorites



The Festival of Lights, starts today Thursday, December 7th and goes through Friday, December 15th. From classic Jewish foods to fan-favorite chocolates, there are many options to celebrate Hanukkah in New York City.

New York’s iconic Li-Lac Chocolates, celebrating its 100th Anniversary has been enjoyed by generations of locals and tourists alike. Manhattan’s oldest chocolate house, Li-Lac, has remained true to its tradition maintaining the same single-minded focus on product quality. Its confections are handmade daily in its Brooklyn Factory using many of the original techniques and equipment from 1923.

Li-Lac Chocolates makes for the perfect Hanukkah gift for friends and family. They have a broad selection of specialty molds and gifts, now offering more than 120 items making it one of the largest selections of gourmet chocolates in the world.

All of its chocolates are certified Kosher and gluten-free.

A few gift options for Hanukkah include:

  • Dreidel Filled with Gelt
  • 20 pc. Chanukah Chocolate Gift Box
  • Chest of Gelt
  • Menorah Pop

The full list of Hannukah chocolates may be viewed here.

To learn more about Li-Lac Chocolates rich history, you may view a comprehensive press release here.

Store locations: Industry City/Brooklyn, Greenwich Village, Bleeker Street, Chelsea Market, Hudson Yards and Grand Central Market.

Ships: via FedEx in the United States and Canada.


The popular Upper East Side Jewish Delicatessen PJ Bernstein will be rolling out a special Hanukkah menu, available for catering, delivery, takeout as well as dining in.

One of the last remaining of its kind, PJ Bernstein has been a staple in its neighborhood since opening its doors on the northeast corner of 70th St. and 3rd Ave. Serving the classics since 1965, it continues to be a hotspot for locals and celebrities, attracting the likes of Mayor Ed Koch, Liza Minelli, 2 James Bonds in Sean Connery and Daniel Craig, and Cuba Gooding Jr., to name a few.

Highlights of their Hanukkah menu include the following, but are not limited to:

  • A Special Prix Fixe Menu with a Mixed Green Salad, Matzoh Ball Soup, Brisket with Mini Latkes, Kasha Varnishka, Gravy, Apple Sauce, and a Mini Danish.


  • Famous Potato Latkes, a holiday favorite
  • Baked Knishes


  • Smoked Sturgeon
  • White Fish Salad
  • Roasted Chicken


  • Baked Sweet Potato
  • Egg Barley


  • Chocolate Rugelach
  • Challah Bread

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Countdown to Christmas Day: Krunch Pop Glow Tubes!



18 days to go! Every year people panic to find the perfect gift. We at T2C have been collecting idea’s all year long to bring you the perfect gift guide at all price levels. When you’re at the end of your rope trying to find the perfect Christmas present this year, come to this guide for some great suggestions.

In searching for gifts for kids, we love Krunch Pop Glow Tubes! ($22.95 for 12)This super cool toy can be stretched out and spun to make cool sounds, or you can connect a bunch and have a hoola hoop contest! It’s perfect for both kids and grown-up celebrations and is easy to bring along on trips, making it limitless on-the-go fun that travels well.

The Krunch Pop Glow Tubes are also bendable, stretchable, twistable, spinnable, and linkable, so you can create all sorts of shapes and designs to light up your party. And if you’re feeling anxious or stressed, this calming and relaxing sensory fidget toy can help relieve your worries. Just twist and pull the toy to make a satisfying “pop” sound that feels great to touch. The crunchy popping sound is so satisfying that you’ll want to play with it all day long!

Ready for something great, enter the #KrunchmasJoy Giveaway. We are on week 3 of a 4 weeks of Krunchmas” giveaway! Get ten chances to win a pack of delicious Krunch Pop Tubes every week until Christmas!

How to Enter
1. Follow us
Follow any of our social media accounts, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok accounts. You will be automatically entered in the contest if you follow our account!
2. Like the giveaway post
Share the contest post on your profile with #KrunchPopTubes #FreeStuffContest.
Tag us in the post so we can follow:
Instagram: @yoyocollectables
Facebook: @YOYOWorldCollectables
X (Twitter): @yoyocollectable
TikTok: @yoyocollectables
3. Tag a friend
Tag two friends who would love to try Krunch Pop Tubes within the contest post.
4. Share Amazon Product
Share our new Amazon Listing for the Krunch Pop Tubes with the hashtag #GlowPartyFavors on any of your social media accounts!
5. Comment
Comment on one of our videos on TikTok with the hashtag #KrunchPopTubes or on any of our Contest posts to enter!
6. Create a Post
Create a unique post about the Krunch Pop Tubes and share it on your page. Tag our social media accounts so we can find your post!
Instagram: @yoyocollectables
Facebook: YOYO World Collectables
X (Twitter): @yoyocollectable
TikTok: @yoyocollectables
Winners will be announced every Friday on our social media accounts and email. Winners who share a video of unboxing the Krunch Box Tubes will automatically enroll in our next promo to receive a free Make Me Mini Water Cooler released this Spring.
Visit YOYO World Collectables for full contest details!
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Countdown to Christmas Day The Gift of Self



19 days to go! Every year people panic to find the perfect gift. We at T2C have been collecting idea’s all year long to bring you the perfect gift guide at all price levels. When you’re at the end of your rope trying to find the perfect Christmas present this year, come to this guide for some great suggestions.

Well today one of my favorite gifts to give and get is coupons of thoughtful acts. Say your best friend loves hot chocolate and you are sugar free…a trip for a cup whip cream filled creamy delight can show you care. Massages, drawing baths, laundry, dinner for 2, a night of Hallmark or Lifetime Christmas movies could be just the thing to show you listen, care and hear what the other person loves. Time is much more precious. Gifts don’t have to cost much, they just have to have thought behind the intent.

If you don’t have time to shop or are limited in funds, this could be just the ticket!


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