Think of all the fairytales you heard as a child, shake them up, dump them out, and you get Into the Woods.
The almost three hour musical, by Stephen Sondheimand and directed at Millersville University by Ricky Hutchins, showcases a plethora of fairytale characters including Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood.
“Rehearsing for a musical is always a long process, and this was no exception,” said Brieanne Rogers, who was the Bakers wife. “Sondheim musicals are especially challenging, but I think we were pretty prepared for the task.”
The first act closed and appeared to be the end of the show, which would have been a happily ever after. However, the second act kills off half of the main characters and, though it ends on an upbeat note, it almost feels like you are watching Hamlet, which helps to cement the fact that Into the Woods is no ordinary fairytale.
This originality was refreshing and helped to keep the audience unsuspecting of what would come next.
“The audiences reacted very well, especially on Saturday,” said Ben Achey, who played the Mysterious Man. “My character is interesting. The wisdom behind his eccentric and seemingly interfering ways is revealed, displaying an unexpected depth to his character. I had a lot of fun with it.”
Each member of the cast brought something unique to the production, and it was obvious their hard work paid off.
“I feel my character did a lot of growing up in the woods. At the beginning, he’s kind of selfish, but naïve,” said Phil Vonada, who was the Baker. “I think that’s a lot of what he was about, learning to be responsible, caring, and fatherly. He grows up, just like the other characters, though in a much different way.”
The pit orchestra sounded perfect alongside the stage. Lori Hess, who played the violin, performed beautifully. She had the difficult task of making the high-pitched notes for the Wolf sound good and not screechy and seemed to hit every note perfectly.
The pit was a relatively small one for a show of this size, putting more pressure on each individual instrumentalist. This did not seem to hinder their performance, however, and it was easy to see the cast and orchestra had a fun time performing.
“We had an all star cast, a talented pit orchestra, and a great director. I think we pulled it off rather well, since Sondheim is very hard to perform,” said Glenn Kraft, who played Cinderella’s Prince. “I liked that I was able to unleash my inner pompous royalty. It was a very refreshing change, and it was fun to act that I was better than the other people.”
Each character was unique and the actor got a chance to get into the mind of a completely random person.
“What can I say about Jack?” said Chris Bartholomew, “The thing that I liked the most about him was his innocence. It changes throughout the show as he realizes that not everyone is as good as he thinks they are. He was a lot of fun to play, and it was fun to put myself back into the mindset of a child.”
The work that goes into a show like this is incredible. There are many people that do not get the recognition they deserve, like all the people helping out backstage. Leann Hart, who played the witch, said she even had to have people open bottles of water for her because she was unable to do anything with her ridiculously long fake nails.
“Sometimes actors can be divas but without the rest of the crew we would be random college students standing on an empty stage singing a song a capella,” said Hart.
She had a lot of fun playing her part and participating in ACMO because it is all student run, and whether or not things go perfectly smooth the outcome is a good one.
“I think people sometimes forget that we did everything ourselves, from the sound to the set to the costuming and directing,” said Hart.
The cast, however, surpassed expectations, minus a few sound difficulties.
Aaron Ross, who played Cinderella’s father, did an amazing job. His character was drunk the whole time and his aimless wanderings about the stage made for an easily humorous situation.
“I played Cinderella’s father, a loopy drunk man. I liked playing him because he was always reacting differently than everyone else on the stage,” said Ross. “He didn’t talk much, but for an audience member with a keen eye, he quietly served a comic relief — especially during the high-stress situations.”
“Into the Woods” helped to showcase not only the talent here at Millersville University, but the dedication as well.