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‘Into the Woods’ brings magic to Hauck Auditorium stage

On Friday, March 1, The School of Performing Arts (SPA) debuted “Into The Woods” in Hauck Auditorium. The show ran for two weeks, closing on March 10. Under the directions of Amiee Turner and musical direction of Cindy Sambrano, the vibrant cast of SPA students transported their audience into the woods.

“Into The Woods” debuted on Broadway in 1987 and gained popularity through mystical theatrics while competing with classics such as “Phantom Of The Opera.” In 2014, the musical was adapted into a film starring Meryl Streep and Maine native, Anna Kendrick. The film earned three Academy Award nominations for Best Costume Design, Best Production Design and Best Supporting Actress (Meryl Streep).

Written by Stephen Sondheim and James Lepine, “Into The Woods” is set at the intersection of your favorite Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales. The musical follows a baker and his wife who long to have a baby; a boy named Jack and his best friend, a cow; Cinderella who wishes to attend the royal festival; Little Red Riding Hood on her quest to Grandma’s house; and a witch whose curse ties these stories together. When the witch promises to lift the curse of childlessness from the baker and his wife in exchange for four random items, their search takes them into the dark and mysterious woods.

Separately, these characters enter the woods to fulfill their wishes. Unbeknownst to them, their stories soon intertwine. The characters unknowingly work together to fulfill each other’s wishes, but not without sacrifice. No character leaves the woods unchanged — if they survive the woods at all.

“My favorite scene in the show that I am in is probably the Act II opening. To see the Stepmother’s character take such a turn once Cinderella becomes a princess is a refreshing change to how she usually treated her,” Delaney Woodward, a third-year student playing the role of Stepmother, said.

After auditions for the production in late November 2018, the cast, crew and live orchestra worked hard over three months to produce and perfect the show. The whimsical nature of the story almost makes one forget the serious rehearsal time committed by each member of the production.

“We have put in countless hours on and off the stage to make sure that we can present our best to the audience,” Woodward said. “The process of putting this show on was not without some bumps in the road, but with a cast and crew as great at this I am not surprised we overcame any challenges we faced.”

The cast made use of trap doors, moving props and a dynamic set to supplement the magic of the story. The set was constructed over the Hauck Auditorium stage, expanding right up to the front row of seats by adding a well. A live orchestra accompanied the actors’ voices while also creating the sounds for dropping beans or the witch’s magic.

Each story starts with a wish: a wish for a child, for a cow that produces milk, or a magical night at the festival. However, a trip into the woods teaches us to be careful what we wish for.

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