Feb. 5, 2016

Into the Woods Offers Fairy Tales with a Modern Edge

Audiences will experience an inventive take on classic fairy-tale characters this month as the musical theatre division of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music presents its spring production, Into the Woods . With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, Into the Woods pulls from the plots of classic fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault to show what life is like after storybook characters must face consequences for their wishes and actions. In most cases, what looked like "happily-ever-after" is far more complicated than it first seemed. The musical revolves around a childless baker and his wife who are trying to start a family. After being placed under the curse of a wicked witch, the couple must travel into an enchanted forest to retrieve ingredients so the spell can be lifted. While on this mission, they interact with characters from stories like Little Red Riding Hood , Jack and the Beanstalk , Rapunzel , and Cinderella . Into the Woods first debuted at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego in 1986 and premiered on Broadway the following year. The original production was honored with several Tony Awards, including Best Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a Musical. The Catholic University production will be directed by Jay D. Brock, clinical assistant professor of musical theatre, with musical direction by John Henderson, a 2013 graduate of the School of Music. Brock said the production will incorporate the use of high-end projection technology that will transform Ward Hall into a "lush and vivid" world of imagination. " Into the Woods is so often produced with a highly romanticized fairy-tale style set and costumes which can sometimes overwhelm the beauty of the story and the magic of the music," Brock said. "What I want to accomplish here at CUA is a version that uses theatricality to tell the story rather than technical stage magic."Though the show will start with the cast sitting on a bare stage with a trunk at their feet, the actors will soon bring the plot to life with playful and inventive methods of story-telling, to include dance, pantomime, shadow puppets, and even beatboxing. Lighting effects, including interactive animated projections, will create the illusion of the dark and foreboding forest where anything can happen. "We only let our imaginations limit us as we utilized many familiar storytelling techniques from theatre, dance, and film, and perhaps some less familiar techniques such as Lecoq, Viewpoints, and Balinese funerary rites," Brock said. "The final result is a quirky multi-faceted musical that doesn't rely so much on props, costumes, and sets as it does on imaginative storytelling." Into the Woods will be presented Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19 and 20, at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 21, at 2 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26 and 27, at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 28, at 2 p.m., in Ward Recital Hall, 3801 Harewood Road, N.E. Tickets are $20 for general admission; $10 for seniors and CUA alumni, faculty, and staff; and $5 for students and children under 8. For more information, visit music.cua.edu or call 202-319-5416.