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Magical Land of Fairytale Characters Comes Alive in “Into the Woods”

by and on February 16, 2014 3:45 PM

The narrator begins with the words, “Once Upon A Time” and we are quickly swept up into the magical world of the Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine musical “Into the Woods.”

The award-winning musical offers a retelling and enjoyable mingling of several Grimm fairytales in a delightful musical play that opens officially on Friday, Feb. 21 at the Pavilion Theatre on campus.

In the show audiences will get to meet Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), the Baker and his Wife and a host of other witches and evil stepmothers and stepsisters.

The show won Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Book as well as the Drama Desk Award for Best Musical.

“Into the Woods” is the latest production of Penn State’s Musical Theatre Program in the School of Theatre. It is directed by graduate student Kasey Graham in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master of Fine Arts in Directing degree.

“This was my top choice to direct for my thesis production,” Graham says. “It’s a great fit for the Penn State population.”

Graham explains that he has taken a minimalist approach to the musical play, and is happy with the collaborative efforts of the entire design team.

“The story comes to life in a library,” he says. “A very whimsical library.”

Graham has found the entire directing process to be artistically satisfying. “I have been able to work with some of the finest performers in the country,” he continues. “This cast is a well-trained group.”

As a professional working in theatre, Graham came to Penn State several times on tour. “I was working as a musical director and in my visits to State College, I learned about Penn State’s Musical Theatre Directing MFA Program. It’s the only program of its kind in the country.”

Graham was drawn to “Into the Woods” because it was one of the first musicals he saw as a young child. “The (theatrical) seeds were planted in me by this show. It’s a great family musical.”

The design team working with Graham is entirely comprised of graduate or undergraduate students. “And they have all been willing to run with this unusual approach.  They’ve all approached the process with an open imagination. Audiences are going to benefit. We will offer magic and a fantastic journey.”

Penn State faculty member Richard ST. Clair heads the costume design program, and serves as a mentor for student designer Sara Tomaszewski.

“It’s wonderful that Sara and Kasey are getting to work together on a larger show,” St. Clair notes. “She worked with Kasey last year on a smaller show. This one is being fully produced and all the costumes are being built in the costume shop. It’s a great culmination of everything she’s learned the last few years.”


What: “Into the Woods”

When: Feb. 21-March 1

Where: Pavillion Theatre, University Park campus

Click HERE for more information or to buy tickets or call 1-800-ARTS-TIX

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Harry is a correspondent for the Gazette.
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