Most people can look back on their childhoods and remember how they would watch their favorite fairy tales and princess movies with twinkles in their eyes, imagining their lives in the make-believe tale. The Northwestern theater program is finding that inner child through this year’s musical production, “Into the Woods,” which will be performed in the England Theater Feb. 18-20, 24, 25 and 27 at 7:30 p.m.
“Into the Woods,” written by James Lapine, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, is a Tony-Award winning musical that fuses together a collection of fairy tale characters in a unique plot.
Cinderella, played by senior Beth Kosters, Rapunzel, played by junior Renee Ausborn, Little Red Riding Hood, played by junior Greta Hays, and Jack from “ Jack and the Beanstock,” played by senior Austin McCombs, begin by sharing their desires and wants as they pursue their destinies in the woods. Throughout the story, a baker, played by sophomore Andrew Stam, and his wife, played by junior Heather Craven, search the characters for ingredients to a potion.
“The premise is about fairy tales that don’t always end happily ever after,” Hays said. “These characters all wished for things, but they aren’t necessarily happy when they come true.”
Director Jeff Barker says the show is “a tribute to parenthood—an exploration of the essential human relationships to be found in families of varying kinds. They’re fairy tales, but we take them seriously.”
Barker also said that it is “especially thrilling” to see the “steampunk” set and costume designs, which incorporate science fiction with fairy tale to create a fantasy vibe.
Production of “Into the Woods” has been especially demanding for both the theater and music departments because of the large cast and the music’s level of difficulty.
“The music is incredibly challenging,” Hays said. “This is a big undertaking for NW, especially considering that we are launching a three-hour, full-scale musical. That comes with its own set of challenges.”
Junior Anna Pitney, who plays one of Cinderella’s stepsisters, said that having a fluid rehearsal schedule the last few weeks has been challenging because of a variety of departmental conferences.
“We just need to work hard for the next week and make the most of our time,” she said.
Despite the last-minute rush to the opening curtain, Barker is excited to see it all come together.
“It’s a great opportunity for the audience to see such a large and difficult musical fully produced in excellent fashion,” he said.
Call or email the theater department’s box office to reserve tickets.