Posted by Jeremy Pittenger on April 9, 2018
Fairytales. A magical world. Wishes granted. This week Perry Theatre will be transformed “Into the Woods,” showcasing the largest cast and crew of any previous spring musical at Aurora University. The free production runs April 13–14 and 18–21.
Nineteen students comprise the cast representing majors including musical theatre, theatre, music, marketing, psychology and social work. Five other students work backstage, alongside seven guest artists and designers and three faculty/staff designers and directors.
“Into the Woods” takes favorite storybook characters and brings them together for a timeless, yet relevant piece. The characters venture into the woods to chase their dreams, fight their demons and find their own version of happily ever after.
While the production is challenging, it also represents an opportunity to take the musical theatre program to new heights, according to Stacy Searle, associate professor and coordinator of the musical theatre program. “We want students, by the time they graduate, to have performed a variety of styles of theatre,” she said. “‘Into the Woods’ is certainly the most musically demanding show we’ve ever done. The students have had to work extremely hard, as has the music director, Dr. Mark Plummer, to craft this show musically.”
Searle adds that some of the students will be required to perform the work of Stephen Sondheim, the musical’s composer, when they graduate. “As demanding as this show has been for the students, it is necessary for them to learn this genre for their future careers as professional artists,” she said.
In addition to studying and performing the music, students are learning about the themes of the show. Sophomore theatre major Annalise Palatine plays Cinderella in the production and has discovered how the characters reflect the moral ambiguity in the real world.
“Our heroes in the show, The Baker and The Baker’s Wife, are not fully good, nor fully bad. They make bad decisions but it’s still easy to sympathize with them,” she said. “The line, ‘witches can be right, giants can be good,’ rings a truth that is very hard to accept: we have something to learn from everyone, even if we consider them to be our enemies. Especially in a time where our country is so divided, it is hard to see that our enemies are also human, and that we may be able to learn something from them.”
Palatine thinks those in attendance will be inspired by the musical. “As cliché as it sounds, I hope that audience members walk away from this show and remember that nobody is alone,” she said. “No matter what you’re going through, no matter how strange you may feel, there is someone in the world who feels exactly the same way as you.”
She also believes there’s an important and timely message for all. “There’s a lyric — ‘You move just a finger, say the slightest word, something’s bound to linger, be heard’ — that really resonates today. This line is said to Jack and Little Red, both young children. The upcoming generation has the power to change the world, no matter how small they may seem. Each of us has the power to make a change. We just have to remember that we are important, and we are worthy of being heard.”
To reserve a seat for the spring musical, visit auartsandideas.com.