Into The Woods, the original musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, presents a twisted story that brings together several magical tales, transporting the audience into an enchanted world of giants and witches, spells and potions, and love and deceit.
The story follows a Baker and his wife, who wish to have a child; Cinderella, who wishes to attend the King’s Festival; and Jack, who wishes his cow would produce milk. When the Baker and his wife learn that they cannot have a child because of a Witch’s curse, the two set off on a journey to break it. Everyone’s wish is granted, but the consequences of their actions return to haunt them later with disastrous results.
Point Loma Nazarene University’s (PLNU) Department of Communications and Theatre is performing Into The Woods for their spring production in Salomon Theatre. PLNU puts on a musical every other year, making it a long awaited event for cast members as well as the rest of the community.
Megan DeBoard, PLNU’s Director of Theatre and the production manager for Into The Woods, chose this musical because of the moral questions it presents.
“My hope is that our production will spark conversation about how we make choices that can be viewed as morally gray. Is there such a thing as a tiny lie? If you do something wrong that brings forth something that is ultimately right for the world, is it really wrong? Is there such a thing as killing someone for the ‘greater good’?”
Teddi Thyfault, PLNU senior, plays The Evil Stepmother in the musical. She believes that Into The Woods carries important themes that translate effectively to the audience.
“There are different themes that are often hard to understand, but they are presented in a way that is so simple because they are explained through fairytales. My favorite theme is the impact we have on our children through our own behaviors; I think this is an idea that is so intricate but here it is simplified by characters we are familiar with, such as Rapunzel.”
PLNU’s rendition of Into The Woods differs slightly from most productions. DeBoard wanted to create a story-telling impression to the musical.
“Instead of setting Sondheim and Lapine’s classic musical literally in the woods, as most productions choose to do, I’ve brought in an external element of storytelling and set it in a lodge. The actors you see are exactly that – actors. If you come early, you’ll see them preparing to put on the play for the audience. I think this setting encourages further creativity. Instead imploring ‘stage magic’ with smoke and mirrors, our students are creating the special effects, props, sets, costumes, etc.”
This performance includes 17 student cast members which is more cast members than the average PLNU production. It has offered the possibility for numerous students to get involved and be a part of the musical.
DeBoard has enjoyed watching this student cast grow throughout the preparation stages of the musical. She finds great joy in directing student productions because of the progress that she sees within each student along the way.
“There’s something so special about working with students. The growth you see in the six weeks you work with them is exponentially farther than working with professionals. I’m not just directing a show, but also teaching acting techniques, movement, projection, articulation. Students throw themselves into projects wholeheartedly, eager to learn and grow. If I say to a seasoned actor, ‘Will you grab a stick and pretend to be birds?’ they are likely to say, ‘What’s my motivation? Why is my character also playing birds? What is the background of these birds?’ whereas a student will grab a stick, jump onstage and start twittering. It’s beautiful.”
DeBoard and the student cast are excited to see their friends and family as well as new faces come out to watch the performance.
Into The Woods show times and cost:
Wednesday, April 5th (Opening Day): 7 p.m.
Thursday, April 6th: 7 p.m.
Friday, April 7th: 7 p.m.
Saturday, April 8th: 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Sunday, April 9th: 2 p.m.
Each showing costs $10 for students and $14 for the general public. You may purchase tickets online or at the Salomon Theatre box office.
Editor’s Note: Maddy Garrett is part of the cast of “Into The Woods.”