‘Woods’ auditions begin on Monday

Although tawdry affairs and the deaths of loved ones are not themes one usually associates with childhood fairytales, “Into the Woods”, the upcoming fall musical production, was never supposed to be conventional.

With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, “Into the Woods” intertwines the stories of classic characters as each undergo a quest to find his or her respective wish in a magical forest. While Act One sees everyone’s wish granted, what beings as a light fantasy morphs into a grim tale as the characters must deal with the consequences of their actions in Act Two.

“The first half is fun with all the different fairy tales coming together, but the second half is much darker with the affairs and killings,” said Kat Arenella ’10, who has been cast as Cinderella.

The musical was last performed at Harvard-Westlake in 2001, co-directed by Ted Walch and Michele Spears, the current co-directors.

“It’s a really popular and fun musical,” says Christopher Moore, the show’s producer. “A lot of people liked it last time, so we decided to do it again.”

Among the reasons why the Performing Arts Department chose to produce “Into the Woods” again was how drawn it was to the music and lyrics of Sondheim.

“The music is beautiful and compelling. It creates mood and emotion so powerfully,” said Mark Hilt, the musical director.

In particular Hilt spoke about a song in the second act called “No One is Alone”.

“It’s a catharsis,” he said. “It speaks not just to those poor characters on stage but to the whole audience. That’s really terrific when that happens in the theatre.”

Unlike recently performed musicals such as “Les Miserábles” and “Cabaret”, “Into the Woods” has no chorus. Instead there are a large number of roles each with its own individual stage time. Spears described it as “an ensemble piece, where there’s a smaller cast, but every part is complete.”

Although the characters of “Into the Woods” are derived from children’s literature, the musical itself deals with more mature issues, such as filial relationships, broken marriages, and moral cowardice.

“It goes more deeply than any recent musical I can think of into the character,” said Walch. “These characters are truly three dimensional. By the end of it you get a complete human being.”

Auditions for the musical ran the week of Sept. 8, and after two call backs, cast lists were posted outside the Drama Lab on Sept. 15. Rehearsals began the day the cast list was released.

The play will be performed Friday Nov. 14 through Sunday Nov. 16 at the Rugby Auditorium.