by Hailey Reilly & Teddy Mebane
A cow as white as milk? Giants in the sky? Magic beans? Audiences can see all this and more as the WHS theater department takes us Into the Woods in its spring musical this upcoming Thursday through Saturday.
The Tony Award-winning musical, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, originally premiered on Broadway in 1987. The musical was recently adapted by Rob Marshall into a widely successful, Oscar-nominated movie starring Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp.
The story weaves together several fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty. The musical follows them as their journeys intertwine in the woods and they are forced to face the consequences of their wishes and desires.
Director Mr. Daniel Devlin said Into the Woods is one of his all-time favorite shows, and that he chose it this year because “every single person has to be able to walk out on the stage by themselves and hold their own…. Knowing that I had a very strong group of students this year, I also knew that it was going to challenge them to grow a little bit—or a lot—and that’s really the determinant factor in every single show that I pick.”
Senior Madeline Hudelson, who is getting to play her dream role in the musical as the Witch, said: “Into the Woods touches on grief, the transition from child to adulthood, love, loss and everything in between. It's a musical about the extent that people will go to to get what they believe they're supposed to want.”
A challenge the cast faced was Sondheim’s complicated composition, as most of the show—including dialogue—is sung. “It is our job to not just simply sing the notes, but tell a story through them,” said senior Jesse Zimmerman, who plays the Baker’s Wife. “It is a lot more challenging than it may seem…. We want to bring these characters to life through the music while telling the story.”
Devlin said that the show promises many spectacular individual performances, and that what’s special about Into the Woods is “all of the stories are very intermingled, so the story that you might think you know of Rapunzel or Cinderella or Jack, it’s not really that story, it’s more about what happens afterwards. It has a lot to say about who we are and how we think and how we coexist as a society.”
Into the Woods will also feature an impressive set and special effects, according to Senior Prop Designer Ellie Smith. “The show has magic in it—to achieve this effect, we'll be using lots of fog and even a robotic hen,” said Smith.
Hudelson said that the cast feels great responsibility for this year’s production because many people have expressed excitement about Into the Woods. Hudelson said, “there's been a feeling from the community of, ‘this is going to be something special.’”
Besides enjoying the performance, Zimmerman said that the audience should be on the lookout for the deeper messages in the show. “It's not just a fairytale and it's not just the woods. It'll be interesting to see how people relate to this very true tale,” she said.
Performances will be from March 10-12 in the WHS auditorium at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are available at whstd.booktix.com.