The narration also plays a very important role in the storytelling. Indeed, it is not our usual summer fare and we are happy to do a musical that is uniquely different. We have looked at "Into the Woods" for many years, but weren't sure we could mount it. The musical is more lyrical and complicated than anything we have taken on before.
We were afraid we would not be able to find enough musicians to mount an orchestra, per se, and that is why we opted to do the "Junior" version, which offers us the chance to have taped music with a full orchestration. Of course, using taped music comes with its dangers and difficulties, too. When you are performing with "live" accompaniment the musicians can often stop and start with the performers, if necessary. You can't do that with taped music.
BM: I think I begged Karen until she finally buckled and said she would do it. I really wanted to do the original show. Karen also loved the story and the music and wanted to try it. But the more we talked about things, the more the music/orchestration became an area of concern. Then Karen found the "junior" version and we thought that might be a better choice because it comes with musical accompaniment. With the size of our theater, that makes things sooo much easier.
A-M: What is "Into the Woods" about? What is its central theme?
KL: Although it is essentially based on fairytales, it is much deeper and more serious than one would imagine. Upon examining most of our well-known fairytales, we find all kinds of hidden and intriguing plots. "Into the Woods" is no different.
Initially, the story revolves around a baker and his wife (played by Bill Nichols and Luanne Littlefield), who desperately wish to have a child. As their story unravels, they find they have been cursed, and along the way to lift that curse, they encounter all kinds of "friends" that are having similar difficulty and the audience watches as they stretch the truth, steal and maneuver their way to get what they "wish." Wishes are a big part of the plot of "Into the Woods," as it examines the lengths that any one of us might go to in order to get our "wishes."
A-M: What do you like about this show?
BM: I love this show. It is one of Sondheim's finest pieces, I think. I have loved it since I was about 17. I still have the VHS tape from back in 1988 - I think - when "Into The Woods" was nominated for a number of Tony Awards. I watched that clip a million times over the years! Of course, now you can Google it and see as much as you want of it, but back then, to get to see a small piece of a Broadway show was such a gift. I treasured that VHS tape.
I love the music and the original cast was incredible. And this cast is sooo much fun. It has been a joy to work with this group of people. Everyone has been working so hard, and it was a really close group right from the start. This show is tough and it takes everyone working together to pull it off.
A-M: How has this show challenged you?
KL: This show has challenged me on several levels. First and foremost is the teaching of the songs. They are not so melodic as lyrical and that is difficult unless you are an experienced musician, which I am not. I have a good ear, but no musical education, and therefore, it is difficult to teach. But Beth Marlowe has stepped up to the plate in this area.
Also, we have been challenged technically. Our longtime light/sound person, Ken Dickey, has retired from the theater and he leaves a huge void. So we are all trying to fill some big shoes in that area. We have found a "new" set person, who has designed and built an incredible set just for our stage, which should delight and confound our audiences. That person is W. Mark Hayes and he is, indeed, experienced in technical theater.