Sondheim musical ‘Into The Woods’ first offering of theatre series

Doug Osborne-Coy
theatre students starring in Into the Woods in costume

The cast of the Department of Theatre and Dance production of "Into The Woods" includes (from left) Makenzie Bush as Little Red Riding Hood, Kelly Follette as the Witch, Erin Grace Kelly as Cinderella, Drew Jensen as the Baker, and Emily Minch as the Baker's Wife.

The Department of Theatre and Dance will open the 2022-23 Walter Gloor Mainstage Series with six performances of the musical “Into The Woods” from Oct. 21 to 29 in Marvel Theatre.

Dates and performance times are Oct. 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee on Oct.23 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office in the Williams Center by phone at 716-673-3501 and online.

With “Into The Woods,” James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim have taken storybook characters from The Brothers Grimm and brought them together to create a modern theater classic with a Tony Award-winning book and score.

The story follows a Baker and his wife, who wish to have a child; Cinderella, who wishes to attend the King’s Festival; and Jack, who wishes his cow would give milk. Everyone’s wish is granted, but not without consequences.

"Front and center will be an amazing talented cast and pit orchestra. We are bringing sparkle to this already bright work." - Director Paul W. Mockovak

Department of Theatre and Dance Professor Paul W. Mockovak is the director and choreographer for the Mainstage production, while Dr. Paula Holcomb of the School of Music serves as the musical director.

Mockovak, who directed last season’s Mainstage production of “The Normal Heart,” shared some of his insights on “Into The Woods.”

What are the elements that make “Into The Woods” a great theater experience?

First and foremost, the work is brilliantly written with the book by James Lapine and score and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. There are deep, deep layers of thematic material but it is still accessible at many levels. It weaves together timeless fairy tales of our youth and takes them into different endings capturing elements of wishing, responsibility, family and community with great wit, moving lyrics and music. It’s a daunting work but one that remains incredibly popular and we are ready and excited to bring this story to the Marvel stage.

How many students and faculty members are involved?

With cast, understudies, running crew, building crews, designers, assistants and pit we are approximately 130 with seven faculty directly involved.

What are some of the highlights of the Department of Theatre and Dance production?

Front and center will be an amazing talented cast and pit orchestra. We are bringing sparkle to this already bright work. Scenically, there will be the transformation from the opening to some of the devastation of Act II. In addition, we will support the visuals with projections. From my own perspective, a highlight is that after two years of COVID we will be bringing all of the elements of theatre together before a live audience without the impact of masks.

What do you hope audiences will take away from this experience?

I hope it will be a moving experience for them and that they will be engaged and entertained. As I mentioned, it is a title with great name recognition and already we are hearing great buzz about our work. It is our intention to live up to it and even surpass it.

“Into The Woods” is presented as part of the 2022-23 Lake Shore Savings Season.

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