[PHOTOS] Thespians Take Penn State “Into The Woods”
“Into The Woods,” Stephen Sondheim’s multiple Tony award-winning musical, is making a “giant” hike into the Schwab Auditorium this weekend. The Penn State Thespians are performing the musical as its production for the spring semester.
Don’t be fooled by the presence of iconic fairy tale characters from favorite childhood stories, this musical has no trace of traditional Disney-esque optimism, and instead sets out to redefine what “living happily ever after,” truly means. This time around, Little Red Riding Hood isn’t so helpless, and the Witch, at least in her mind, really isn’t so bad after all.
“Everyone looks at a villain as being like rotten to the core, and they’re not. They believe that what they’re doing is the right thing,” said Lauren Weber, the actress playing the Witch. “People know the story of Rapunzel, of Jack And The Bean Stalk, of Cinderella, the reason this story is so great is because not only do they take your preconceived notions of these stories, they surpass your expectations and show you other sides.”
Taking on the idea of static characters and reimagining them as dynamic, posed a difficult task for director Lauren Spinabelli. “Fairy tales that we know have characters that are kind of flat and more typical, and this show gives them more of a new edge, a cool twist,” said Spinabelli. “I really sat down with each character and talked about how they, as a person, grew in this story.”
Spinabelli’s directing style had an impact on lead Caroline Kelley, the Baker’s Wife, who saw herself develop as an actress throughout the production. “I’ve grown so much, just through the role. This is one of my first lead opportunities that I’ve gotten,” said Kelley. “I think theatre really teaches you that you have to put yourself out there, because if you’re not embarrassed while you’re up there, than you’re not doing it right.”
Spinabelli was interested in a costume design that felt more modern, and helped add to the new edginess that reimagines the musical’s fantastical characters. This touch of realism helps compliment the surrealism of the well-designed set, making characters more obtainable without sacrificing the quirkiness of a fantasy world. For Paul Kane, the actor playing the Wolf, the costume design helped him focus in on his interpretation of his character. “Costumes had an idea for a sort of biker type design, and that gave me something to work with,” said Kane. “The biggest part of making it real is having fun with it.”
The audience has just as much fun in their seats as the talented cast does onstage. The vocal ability of Weber, Kane, Kelley, and other members of the cast is nothing short of “enchanting,” and the amount of work put into this production demands attention and attendance.
The Penn State Thespians production of “Into The Woods” is performing in the Schwab Auditorium from March 24-26 at 7:30 p.m. with a 1:30 p.m. matinee on the 26th. Tickets are $4.98 for students and they can be reserved here, or purchased at the door.
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Nittany Lions old and new have received new jersey numbers ahead of the 2022 season.