This past weekend, a thrilling musical theatre production took Gustavus by storm. Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” in which many well-known fairy tales converge to form one story, was directed by Henry MacCarthy and performed in Anderson Theatre between October 31 and November 3. Each and every performance of the show was sold out.
“Into the Woods” involves various characters from Grimm’s fairy tales, like Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel, and twists each of their individual stories into a single narrative. After Act I, the characters essentially begin to write their own story, and it becomes clear that not every fairy tale has to have a happy ending.
This was a unique show at Gustavus, particularly because of the set. Though most of the plot of “Into the Woods” is set in the woods (of course), the set was created to look like an old building, complete with beautiful murals on the walls and several different entrances and exits. Actors often entered the stage through these doorways; in this way, the set effectively eliminated the barriers between outside and inside.
The set was incredible, but it was so large that it created a limited amount of available seats for audience members. This likely contributed to how quickly tickets sold out for each performance.
“The most rewarding part was looking out at the audience and seeing how moved they were. Knowing that your performance has moved people to smiles, to tears, to gasps, to laughter, all of it, is the most fulfilling thing to experience,” said Junior Jordan Johnson, who was cast as Lucinda, one of Cinderella’s step-sisters.
Junior Megan Morris, a co-costume designer for the production, agreed: “When I saw all of the costumes on stage for the first time, I cried tears of joy,” she said.
Are you looking to get involved with Gustavus theatre? Both Morris and Johnson advised that asking for help if you need it and being open-minded are critical for students interested in any aspect of theatre.
“Our department has so much more to offer than just acting or design opportunities. You can be involved in the building of the sets, hair and makeup crew, lighting and sound board operation, and so much more. All you have to do is ask, and we can find a way to get you involved in an area of your interest,” said Morris.
Johnson also suggests trying to view failures as experience for the future. “If you don’t get into a show that is truly okay! It is never a bad reflection on you, and it is okay to feel sad at first, but remember that there is always next time… all of us are rooting for you and ready to help,” said Johnson.
“Student direct shows (such as the ones happening this spring; stay on the lookout for audition posters!) are a great way to get your feet wet in the department! Otherwise, us theatre kids aren’t as weird as we seem, and we’d love to talk and help you find options for getting into theatre and dance!” said Johnson.