A Different Kind of Fairy Tale
What: Brunswick Little Theatre presents ‘Into the Woods’
When: July 25-27, August 1-3
Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m. • Sundays, 3 p.m.
Where: Odell Williamson Auditorium
50 College Rd., Bolivia
Cost: $6-18, www.bccowa.com
Jen Iapalucci has been involved with the Brunswick Little Theatre since 2001 and is used to putting on crowd-favorite productions that visitors to the theater can continue to enjoy time and time again. However, for her 10th production under her sole direction, Iapalucci has decided to put on a more unique show, with her own unique style, for her audience.
Beginning July 25th, Iapalucci and her musical director, Michael Stringer, will showcase the Tony Award-winning musical, “Into the Woods.” The music and lyrics of the show were written by Stephen Sondheim, while the book is by James Lapine and the original production first entertained audiences in Chicago in 1986.
To Iapalucci, the central themes of the musical—the conflict between hopes and dreams and reality, the relationship between parents and their children and growing up—should help attract a wide spectrum of an audience.
“Into the Woods” focuses on a baker and his wife who desire to start a family. Unfortunately, they discover their neighbor is a witch and has placed a curse on them, preventing the couple from having a child. In order to break the curse, the baker and his wife travel into the woods to collect several ingredients for a potion. It is during this journey the couple encounter several familiar fairy-tale characters such as Cinderella, Jack the Giant Killer, Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood. The couple goes on a small adventure with each of these characters to obtain the ingredients they seek.
“We have been talking about doing ‘Into the Woods’ for a couple of years now,” Stringer divulges. “Finally we are getting our chance, which is very exciting for us.”
“Into the Woods” is a different kind of show for the Brunswick Little Theatre, and Iapalucci has admitted to working harder on this performance than her past shows—which were more crowd favorites like “The Wizard of Oz”—to attract an audience to buy tickets and enjoy the production. “I really hope that our community will embrace this lesser-known musical and give it a try,” Iapalucci tells.
It should help that Disney is releasing a film version of “Into the Woods” later this year, which will include stars Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, and Chris Pine.
As musical director, Stringer is excited to take on the challenge of Sondheim’s complex tunes in this production.”The show is truly a masterpiece of musical-theatre writing, and the story line is as creative as the music,” Stringer muses.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of this rendition of “Into the Woods” is the incorporation of “steampunk,” a concept referring to a subgenre of science-fiction and fantasy that envisions an alternate history for the 19th century Victorian era. Iapalucci describes it further as “the future that never was.” In her mind, she imagines it to be similar to the retro-futuristic feel of Tomorrowland at Disney World.
The audience will notice evidence of steampunk in the set design as well as the costumes and props. To bring an industrial contrast to “the organic feel of the forest setting,” according to the director, her set designers, Jonathan Richmond and Shain Flow, have created a treehouse set to embody Iapalucci’s vision. “The treehouse idea marries the whimsy and fun of an adventure in the woods with the underlying dangers inherent in any situation when people go out into nature ill-prepared,” she says.
Iapalucci also added an ensemble element to the show. Her motivation behind this decision lies with her desire to include children in a cast that did not originally call for any. The children will be singing and dancing to accomplish visual and sound effects. To Iapalucci, this brings her production back to simpler roots, without technological effects overpowering the actual live show.
“I’m hoping that by using actors to create elements like blooming flowers, or a growing beanstalk, or the angry face of a giant, [will allow] the audience to be dazzled by the effect while still seeing exactly how it’s achieved,” Iapalucci urgers. “By not having it be a technical effect reminiscent of television or movies, we can remind ourselves just how unique and exciting live theater can be.”
Most of the adult cast hail from the Southport, Oak Island and Boiling Spring Lakes area. They are fixtures locally, working elsewhere outside of rehearsal and theater and then coming together to perform “Into the Woods.” Iapalucci says the adult cast members and children in the ensemble learn from each other during rehearsal by creating a balance between experience and stability, inhibition and fun.
“None of us are paid; all of us have jobs and families and obligations,” she confirms. “We do this, we commit untold hours to rehearsing and memorizing and sewing costumes and building sets and hanging lights, because it’s fun,” Iapalucci reveals. “If it’s not fun, I’m doing something wrong; that’s what I try to keep in mind