Stories walk ‘Into the Woods’ and onto the stage - The Echo News
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Stories walk ‘Into the Woods’ and onto the stage

Taylor Theatre performs an iconic twist on classic fairy tales

Walk into a pop-up picture book production of your favorite fairy tales. (Photograph by Ben Williams)

Walk into a pop-up picture book production of your favorite fairy tales. (Photograph by Ben Williams)

By Emily Pawlowski | Echo

A cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, a slipper as pure as gold…

These four items connect the seemingly unrelated fairy tales that make up the musical “Into the Woods.” Each belongs to a separate character, united by a baker and his wife who need the items to undo a curse.

As each character’s story progresses, their needs lead them into the woods. It’s a classic tale but with a twist. Though everyone’s story seems complete after the curtain closes on Act 1, life continues after the intermission.

“I think one thing that we discovered about the woods is that it’s our daily journey,” said sophomore Madeline Logan, who plays Cinderella. “We go into every day thinking I have this handled, I am going to go in and do what I want and get out, but we learn something new every day, and we don’t always come out of every day finished.”

“Into the Woods” draws inspiration from the stories of Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella and Rapunzel. Each story is pushed beyond its happy ending and each character must deal with themes of change and growing up.

Actors found different ways to connect to their characters and their approaches to life. Junior Steven Mantel, who plays the baker, found himself stepping into the character’s shoes a second time, after playing the part as a senior in high school.

“The second time, he makes more sense to me,” Mantel said. “The older you get, the more you realize the responsibilities you have to take on.”

Other actors found relating to their character to be a more unique experience.

Junior Brandt Maina, who plays the Big Bad Wolf, spent a lot of time researching real-life wolves for his part. He watched videos of the ways dogs walk and run and listened to the sounds of wolves barking and howling to prepare for his part.

Maina said he enjoyed the process of researching his character. He felt the actors had the opportunity to spend a lot of time exploring the world.

The characters spring to life through the work of the actors, but the stark white background of the stage adds even more vibrancy to their parts. The set was inspired by paper-cut light backgrounds, which manipulate light and shadow to create silhouettes of scenes from stories.

“It creates great silhouettes with the costumes, and when things are in color, they become more apparent and more real,” Logan said. “It really brings you into this sea of whiteness, of uncertainty.”

The characters must deal with the consequences of the decisions made throughout the play, both their own and others. Themes of loneliness, maturity and happiness are explored, as well as many others. Taylor Theatre will be performing “Into the Woods” Nov. 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 8 p.m., and Nov. 11 and 18 at 2 p.m.

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