“Into the Woods” opens this weekend in Chapman Theatre

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E.h. Petropulos, masters student in music, and Samantha Williams, sophomore in vocal performance rehearse for the production of Into the Woods at the Mark A. Chapman Theatre in Manhattan, Kan. on Oct. 25, 2017. (Photo by Katelin Woods | Collegian Media Group)

Do the ends justify the means? Or will the means come back to haunt you?

This is the very predicament the characters of “Into the Woods” face in pursuit of their desires. The musical, book by James Lapine and music by Stephen Sondheim, features our favorite childhood fairy tale characters as they intertact throughout their individual quests.

The production will run in the Mark A. Chapman Theatre from Nov. 2 through Nov. 12 under the direction of Jerry Jay Cranford, assistant professor in the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.

Cranford further explained the musical’s plot in his director’s note in the production’s program.

“In the first act, Sondheim and Lapine focus on the various personal, often selfish journeys to ‘happily ever after,’ using familiar fairy tale characters,” Cranford wrote. “In Act II, the characters must grow up when faced with the realization that ‘happily ever after’ is never permanent. They must return to the woods and work together as a community to survive.”

Performing this two-hour-long production is no easy task, and it requires a strong and talented cast, crew and director.

“Director Cranford loves to add moments where you wouldn’t think there would be one,” said Kelly Urschel, senior in vocal performance and actor in the production. “It has never been about the spectacle with him; it’s all about the genuine human interactions. Musicals are so fast-paced, but he has found ways to pause and create those drawing moments.”

Anthony Bandy, sophomore in vocal performance and actor in the production, shared how expectional the cast and crew is.

“Everyone involved is very creative and motivated to be the best they can be,” Bandy said. “People really are passionate about the arts here, and everyone fits their roles so well. Our director never fails to give constructive feedback in a way that is both productive and loving.”

With every production there are challenges, especially with “Into the Woods” being as extensive and elaborate as it is.

Evan Brandt, a sophomore in theatre and actor in the production, said the biggest difficulty he faced was finding his individual sound.

“The hardest part about this production has been finding my voice,” Brandt said. “That is something I’m still struggling with. Sometimes I have to ask myself, is it myself singing, or is it me replicating someone else? Finding that unique sound is difficult, but being in this production has helped me grow towards my goal.”

Brandt is not alone his experience with Sondheim’s intricate music. Lauren Taylor, sophomore in musical theatre and actor in the production, said the music has challenged her.

“The most challenging part about this production is the music,” Taylor said. “Sondheim is a really tricky composer. He is very wordy and has a lot of weird rhythms and time changes that he loves to do. I’m also not typically a soprano, so the tendency for Cinderella’s vocals to be written higher was challenging for me to adjust and rehearse.”

Taylor said being pushed helped her flourish as a performer.

“I feel like this show helped me grow as a performer because it gave me an acting opportunity that I had not yet been exposed to,” Taylor said. “It was new and interesting for me to play a softer kind of character, since I hadn’t experienced that before. That, along with the higher vocal range, presented a really fun and new experience for me.”

While theatrical performance is a complicated craft, it also serves a platform to share human perspectives, Urschel said.

“Theatre really has the ability to make people uncomfortable, in a good way,” Urschel said. “We are showing people all aspects of humanity. It shows you a different perspective, the good and the bad. ‘Into the Woods’ is no exception to this. It doesn’t push the mistakes the characters make to the side; it acknowledges them and shows the humanity behind their actions.”

Taylor said she encourages people to see the performance because it has something to offer for everyone.

“People should come see ‘Into the Woods’ because it’s a classic musical that has something for everyone,” Taylor said. “No matter your favorite fairy tale character, I think people are sure to enjoy going on a journey with each character, as well as find some meaning for themselves that they can take away from the experience.”

For more information on Kansas State University theatre performances and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.k-state.edu/theatre/.

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