Into the Woods

Take a cast of 21, a 15-piece orchestra, and a crew of 25. Add two complete scene changes, several hundred lighting cues, two remote-controlled animals, and an intricate, fast-paced script. What do you have? The five-college theater department’s production of Into the Woods.

Into the Woods, with score by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, originally opened on Broadway in 1987. The Tony Award-winning musical, selected by the theater department for the 2005-06 season, ran in Seaver Main Stage Theatre during November 2005.

The play creatively intertwines familiar fairy tales and characters with a central story of a baker’s family cursed by the witch next door. The plot goes beyond the traditional fairy tale to explore the consequences, conflicts, and desires of life.

Into the Woods includes a large number of roles for women—15 out of 21 are female characters—and Scripps students took an impressive six of these. Scripps women also accounted for a sizeable segment of the crew, including choreographer Katy Lind ’06 and stage manger Anne O’Dowd ’06.

Anne, a double major in theater and history, is considering a career in stage management. She says she performs well under stress, a vital quality for this profession. Essentially unnoticed by the audience, the stage manager helps adapt the vision of the directors, designers, and technicians from concept to stage. Anne supervised the physical aspects of the production, assisted the director during rehearsals, facilitated communication among actors and all production and technical staff, and maintained order on stage during each performance.

During the eight-week rehearsal period, Anne worked between 40 and 50 hours a week to ensure that the show ran smoothly. “This job was difficult. Any issues that arose in rehearsal were my responsibility to report to the people who needed to know, from shoes being too small to a request for a remote-controlled cow; I had to figure out not only who but how to ask.”

The themes of the play made it appropriate for The Claremont Colleges theater group. The director, Professor Boots Pascual, remarked, “The very American and yet universal themes that Sondheim and Lapine tackle require adept focusing and sensitive artistic handling. It truly fits into a program like this, which is situated in a liberal arts context.”