Into the Woods’ puts new twist on familiar tales

by Kelly Drobac

Theatre Simpson’s new musical production “Into the Woods” offers a comedic twist on some famous fairy tales.

“Into the Woods” combines the humor of “Shrek” and “The Princess Bride”.

The main characters are Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Prince Charming and Rapunzel. The show presents the question, what happens after the happily ever after?

“This show was a challenge,” sophomore stage manager Angela Vogel said. “Since it is a musical, we had to work with both the director and musical director to make it all come together into one performance.”

Vogel said musicals can be helpful to students.

“Simpson, I think, is known more for their dramatic qualities,” Vogel said. “By doing this musical, Simpson is giving students more opportunity to have a variety of productions to put on their resumes.”

Directed by Tom Woldt, associate professor of theater arts, and with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Simpson students and others bring the book by James Lapine to life.

“This play has never been performed at Simpson College before,” junior Lindsey Johnson said.

Johnson plays the Baker’s Wife.

“At the end of each year, the students and faculty get together to discuss what shows they would like for the following season,” Johnson said. “‘Into the Woods’ has been on the ‘to do’ list for quite a while now. It is a big challenge to take on, but everyone involved has really pulled through to make this a fun and memorable production.”

This production also features New York actress Amanda White as the Witch. White is a professional actress in Chicago and New York City and has spent two seasons with the Old Creamery Theater in Amana.

Junior Julie Soukup plays Cinderella in the production.

“She isn’t the stereotypical Cinderella however,” Soukup said. “Her journey consists of wanting to go to the festival, running from the Prince, deciding to marry him, thinking she is happy and then realizing that the Prince is cheating on her with the Baker’s Wife.”

Soukup said the musical goes beyond traditional portrayals of the characters.

“‘Into the Woods’ goes beyond the Disney version of these characters and digs beneath the surface,” Soukup said. “All of the fairy tales collide, creating an interesting, yet twisted story.”

Sophomore Mackenzie Webb plays Florinda, one of Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters.

“In the end, characters deal with a message of ‘be careful what you wish for,'” Webb said.

Webb said both the dialogue and the music can be challenging for the actors.

“It isn’t your everyday fairy tale,” Webb said. “It is a contemporary musical as opposed to a classical or serious play, which the past shows of this season were. The actors are challenged by the dialogue, but also the very difficult music.”

Some other students involved in this production are sophomore Jonathan Feld as the Baker, freshman Jacob Kaufman as Jack, senior Becca Jackson as Jack’s Mother, junior Bobby Nalean as the Mysterious Man and Narrator, freshman Kayla Dvorak as Little Red Riding Hood and senior Victor May as the Prince and the Wolf.

Students can expect anything to happen in this production.

“It’s a comedy play and we hope to bring in a younger audience with it and it’s also a production where everyone can enjoy something from it,” Vogel said.

Johnson said the musical adds confusion and mischief to some well-known fairy tales.

“The piece is a bright and witty take on fairy tales that many of us grew up with, and adding a dash of confusion, mischief and drama,” Johnson said. “As a result, comedy ensues.”

“Into the Woods” will be performed in Pote Theater tomorrow at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.