Theatre UNI heads ‘Into the Woods’
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This upcoming weekend, the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center (GBPAC) will undergo a magical transformation as Theatre UNI brings the widely-acclaimed musical “Into the Woods” to campus.
The musical, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, is a reimagining of various Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales, such as “Cinderella” and “Little Red Riding Hood.”
There will be three performances throughout the weekend: Friday, April 21, at 7 p.m., Saturday, April 22, at 2 p.m. and Sunday, April 23, at 2 p.m.
Theatre UNI has taken a slightly different approach with this production of “Into the Woods” as compared to the original stage show and the 2014 Disney film of the same name.
According to Eric Lange, the artistic director for Theatre UNI and theatre department of theatre, students can expect to see a significant tone shift between the first and second acts.
“More happens in act two where they’re faced with more definite challenges,” Lange said. “It becomes much more gritty and real-life like… Sondheim and Lapine set you up in act one for what we’re used to in fairytales, but then we get into act two and it definitely takes a darker more realistic turn.”
According to Lange, the cast will have practiced a total of 12 weeks come opening night. However, the design process started in early August, involving over 80 students who are creating the set.
The set has a strong musically-based motif. The scenery, as well as the costumes, all represent a different piece involving a musical instrument.
According to Steve Caignan, associate dean for outreach and special projects, this production will be the culmination of the work of countless individuals over the span of several months.
“The scale and effort takes the combined efforts of the two departments [GBPAC and the Theatre Department], and the shows are larger and more ambitious than what either group could do on its own,” Caignan said.
Lange said that Theatre UNI chose to perform “Into the Woods” not only for the musical’s popularity, but also for its complexity.
“It is a complex piece, both musically and vocally, and we really wanted to give our students who have handled complicated material very well in past shows a push or a challenge. And Sondheim is exactly that,” Lange said. “The orchestra also plays a large part in the show.”
Besides providing music accompaniment for the show, the orchestral members in the pit also interact with the cast, providing a different experience compared to other shows for the audience.
“I am most excited for students to see other students doing this really difficult and intense show,” said Mic Evans, senior theatre performance major. Evans will play the role of the Baker in the show.
“You are going to get to see student musicians, student actors [and] student technicians,” Evans said. “The entire set was built by students; it was all loaded in [to the GBPAC] by students. Everything that happens in the production is done by other students, so it is to the caliber of the other professional productions that come to the Gallagher Bluedorn … So, the most important thing is that you are seeing students do professional work and at a professional level.”
Haley Bunnell, freshman deciding major, will be the puppeteer for several characters in the show. She praised the welcoming environment she found when she joined the cast, rather unexpectedly.
“I got an email from the stage manager asking if I wanted to be an extra, and so I was kind of thrust into the whole thing,” Bunnell said. “At first, it was really intimidating because everyone was so good, and I didn’t know anyone. But everyone is really welcoming, and I was able to adjust really quickly.”
Lange expressed his pleasure of working with UNI students and Theatre UNI.
“There is a great deal of talent that is brought forth from our students, both in the performance area and the design area,” Lange said. “A lot of our students spend a good deal of time in the theatre, so it is a close-knit group. Even the people that come from outside of the major get really involved and … pretty much everyone is after the same goal of really producing a quality piece.”
Tickets for all three performances start at $16 each, but full-time UNI students may use one of their two free tickets per semester for the show. In addition, $5 student rush tickets will be available on the day of the performance.