BWW Interviews: Part Three of Our Interview Series with the Cast of INTO THE WOODS
BroadwayWorld is thrilled to share with you an interview series featuring the cast of Woodlawn Theatre's current production of Into the Woods.
One of Sondheim's most enchanting works, Into the Woods follows the stories of the Baker and his wife who wish to have a child, Cinderella who wishes to attend the King's Festival and Jack who wishes his cow would give milk. With the words 'once upon a time,' the story begins. We follow Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack (of beanstalk fame) encountering the consequences traditional fairytales conveniently ignore.
Into the Woods plays The Woodlawn Theatre, located at 1920 Fredericksburg Road, now through March 16. Tickets are on sale now at www.woodlawntheatre.org or by calling the box office at 210-267-8388. Show times are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sundays 3 pm. Tickets cost $15 - $23 with discounts for students, military and SATCO members.
Today, we bring you our interview with cast members Sharon Newhardt and Trevor Chauvin who play Cinderella's Stepmother and Jack, respectively.
BWW: What made you decide to audition?
SN: I would have regretted it if I hadn't tried! This is an iconic show, and I wanted to be a part of it.
TC: I decided to audition because it has been far too long since I have had the honor and privilege of performing Sondheim. I also auditioned because playing Jack was on my bucket list of characters to play (before I got too old!).
BWW: How familiar were you with the show prior to rehearsals?
SN: Very. I lived in NYC when it opened on Broadway. I saw it during its first season. I also Stage Managed a production in Los Angeles in 1993.
TC: I was lucky enough to do this musical my senior year of high school. I played Rapunzel's prince and Mysterious Man. So I was VERY familiar with this piece, even though that was almost ten years ago.
BWW: Why do you think Into the Woods is as beloved as it is?
SN: The framework is familiar, characters we have known from childhood. The themes are common and most people can relate to at least one of the characters.
TC: I think Into the Woods is so beloved because everyone knows these characters and stories. Fairy tales are part of growing up; and being able to see a fairy tale come to life in front of you with beautiful original music is fascinating. Then comes the second act where everything you know to be true is turned on its head, you find out what really happens when you get what you wish for. I think this piece has a similar appeal that Wicked does. Take a beloved story and turn everything you know about it upside down and inside out!
BWW: What has it been like to bring this show to life?
SN: To paraphrase Little Red, Exciting and Scary! The music is wonderfully difficult Sondheim, but it is so exciting to sing this music in a real production.
TC: This show is challenging and heart-wrenching. It has been a stressful and frustrating journey. Having said that, it is 100% rewarding. Being able to learn and perform this music is such an accomplishment. I have loved digging deep into a character everyone knows and being able to bring something fresh and new to it.
BWW: Into the Woods is a huge ensemble piece. Which character do you identify with the most?
SN: The first time I worked on this show, I felt a lot like Cinderella. Now that I'm in a different season of my life, I have to say The Witch, oddly enough. I can relate to her journey as a Mother, as flawed as it is. And I know that I am not a perfect Mother, no one is. We have to do the best we can, and we all want to protect our children from all harm.
TC: It really depends on what mood I am in. I have been able to relate to Little Red, growing up is hard to do, and with knowledge comes things like responsibility. I also find myself being able to relate to the Baker's Wife. She is completely determined to get her wish; her will power and strength are inspiring. All of these characters are beautifully flawed. I think if I thought about it I could find an aspect of every character to relate to. This is yet another reason why this musical is so wonderful...everyone is totally relatable.
BWW: Do you have a favorite moment in the show?
SN: I have to CHOOSE? So many! As an actor, I love all the scenes where I get to be mean! Villains are so much fun to play. As an audience member, I love watching Trevor sing "Giants In The Sky" and Joseph and Travis in "Agony."
TC: Do I have to choose one? I think one of my favorite moments for me is the moment Jack switches after visiting the giant. He realizes that the world around him provides adventure to. The visit to the kingdom in the sky grounds him, and puts things in perspective for him. When as before the adventure, he longs for more, and seems bored with his surroundings. I also love when the Baker's Wife sings "No One is Alone" to the Baker...ugh it is so touching and poignant. If you have every lost a loved one, this moment is very profound.
BWW: What's been the best part about working on this production?
SN: Working with friends whose talent I respect, but have never done a show with before.
TC: The best part of working on this production is watching everyone discover his or her character's journey. Everyone does it at their own pace and style. It is fascinating to watch artists create.
BWW: There are few Broadway composers who are as prolific and respected as Stephen Sondheim. What's your favorite Sondheim show?
SN: Oh, this one!
TC: My favorite Sondheim show is....well....hmmm....Company, Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, Little Night Music...I can't pick.
BWW: Into the Woods was part of a big Tony Award battle that is still talked about, so naturally we need to bring it up. With that said, Phantom of the Opera or Into the Woods. Which one, in your opinion, deserved the Tony for Best Musical back in 1988?
SN: I was fortunate enough to have seen both productions that year. I thought Into the Woods was the more interesting and complex show. Phantom of the Opera was a great spectacle. If I had been voting, Into the Woods, for me!
TC: Into the Woods for sure. Phantom was a phenomenal and flashy show when it opened, in fact it still is. But Into the Woods has meat to it. The music is meaningful and complex. The messages are timeless and profound. I am not trying to put Phantom down, but it is a bit more shallow than Woods. I love me some Carlotta, but I'd take Woods over it any day.
BWW: There's been a lot of talk from theater fans and critics about what the Giantess is supposed to represent, especially since Into the Woods premiered at the dawn of the AIDS epidemic. What do you think she stands for, and if you had your own Giantess to overcome, what would she be?
SN: I believe the Giantess is what we want her to be. That is one of the brilliant things about this show; it doesn't tie up things neatly for the characters or for the audience, either. For me personally, I think she is fear -- fear of poverty, illness, and loneliness, whatever it is that we fear. We all have at least one fear. Back in the 80's, people were so afraid of AIDS, I remember someone telling me not to share a drink from a soda can because "he might have AIDS."
TC: Wow, that's an unexpected question. I think the Giantess can represent any obstacle to overcome. The Giantess means different things for different people. Prejudice, sexism, racism, cancer, AIDS...etc. She can represent anything that is misunderstood and unknown. Her meaning can change depending on when Into the Woods is performed. She may very well have represented the AIDS epidemic then, but now? Maybe homophobia, or the every powerful 1%. It's definitely some food for thought.
BWW: What do you think audiences will enjoy most about Into the Woods?
SN: I hope they see a different point of view about something they may have a strong opinion about. For fans of the show, I hope they connect to a moment in the show that never really stood out to them before.
TC: I think audiences will enjoy watching treasured characters coming to life and the profound effect that the second act will have on them. I hope audiences are moved and touched. I hope they leave thinking about what they say and how they act. I hope they leave humming a tune and with lots to think about and analyze.