May 28, 2017

Into the Woods: Off the Screen and Onto the Stage

Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Marks Photography

 

By Brigid Walshe `19

A&E Staff

Crowds filed into the Angell Blackfriars Theatre this past weekend to see the final performances of Into the Woods, and many were left with a smile. The musical is the second musical that Providence College’s Department of Theatre, Dance, and Film has done on their new musical theatre track. The cast and crew did a fantastic job with recreating a well-known classic and making it unique in their production.

Friends, students, and theatre fanatics alike  all showed their appreciation for the actors’ talent  and hardwork. Veronica Murphy ’17 had nothing but positive things to say about the show. “I’m happy to see that everyone got a chance to shine in this production,” she said, “I thought they did a nice job with such difficult content and put on a great show.”

The expert performance can partially be explained by the actors’ talent, but also through their predispositon to the material. Courteney Olenzak ’17 said, “This show is one I’ve known since I was a little girl and it’s an honor to finally be a part of it in this way.” Olenzak says that the music was challenging, and intentionally so, but that everyone “worked incredibly hard and I’m proud with the result.”

Into the Woods is based on Grimm fairy tales and follows the stories of characters everyone has grown up with—Cinderella, Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel to name a few. Each of the main characters has a wish—The Baker and his wife wish to have a baby, Cinderella wishes to go to the King’s festival, and Jack wishes that his cow would make milk.

By the end of the first act, all of their wishes come true and it appears that they all get their happily ever after. The second act, however, introduces a situation that forces the characters to face the consequences of their actions, and they must come together to protect their kingdom.

Into the Woods first premiered over 25 years ago, when composer Stephen Sondheim and writer James Lapine debuted their musical on Broadway in 1987. Since then, the musical has been produced throughout the world, with productions from the West End of London to high schools across the country.

Many people may also associate Into the Woods with the 2014 Disney blockbuster, which featured stars such as Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, and Emily Blunt. The cast and crew had to face the question of how to reimagine a show that has been produced for 25 years and present it in a unique way, and they did a great job in creating a production unique to Providence College, and led the audience into  woods they have never seen before.

It is no easy task to put on a production of a musical, especially one as complex as this one. Disney spent $50 million to produce the film, so it was hard to imagine where to start. One of the more unique aspects of this production was the set design. Since the musical is based on the stories found in books, the stage was filled with them, including four main books, which contained the stories of the main characters of the show. These books opened up to serve as a backdrop for each of the characters, and it made it seem like they came to life out of their stories. The crew also incorporated shadow puppetry into the famous scene of Little Red Riding Hood, when  she confronts the Wolf at her Grandmother’s house, as the scene was acted out using the puppets’ shadows illuminated on  a screen. The visuals of the play were fantastic, as well as the performances.

One of the great elements of this musical is how the stories of all of these different characters intertwine so well, and the cast and the directors of the show did a great job making the show flow smoothly. The performances were fantastic, along with the costumes, set, and music. As the audience left the woods at the end of the play, they may just have been wishing to return to them one day.

 

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