NKU Theatre and Dance to Stage INTO THE WOODS This Spring

Northern Kentucky University | School of the Arts | Program of Theatre and Dance presents INTO THE WOODS April 21 - May 1, 2016. Performances will take place in the Corbett Theatre in the Fine Arts Center.

INTO THE WOODS by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. In this timeless musical, your favorite fairytales are flipped upside down and given a hefty dose of reality to boot. You might think you know the real stories of Little Red, Cinderella, Jack, and Rapunzel, but when a Baker and his wife learn of the curse placed upon their house by the witch next door, their quest to break the spell will cause fairytales to collide. As expected, wishes are granted and dreams come true, but in this modern classic, 'happily ever after' is not always what it seems: wishes have consequences, princes have flaws, and giants seek revenge.

We sat down with director and theatre faculty member Jamey Strawn to get the inside scoop on INTO THE WOODS. Read on to learn more about Strawn's unique approach to the show.

How is your telling of the story unique? What led you to your approach to the show?

Jamey Strawn: INTO THE WOODS has been around for over 30 years. It seems everyone is familiar with it in some way or another, whether through viewing the production live or online, participating in a production, or viewing the movie. After much discussion with the design team, we decided to set the show in a Library. From the very first "Once Upon a Time," the library will come to life with the stories interwoven. As the characters discover and attain their wants and needs, the library will begin to show the burden of consequence and ultimately become deconstructed when there is no more story left to follow. Setting the show in an alternate location provides us the freedom to explore relationships in a new way.

You certainly know your way around the works of Stephen Sondheim. Do you have an affinity for his work? What makes his musicals so enduring?

JS: There is no question that Sondheim is the greatest living musical theatre composer. I enjoy working on his shows because of the depth of meaning in the storytelling, along with the character development in both the text and the orchestration. I was fortunate to help develop a two-piano version of Sweeney Todd recently, and that really inspired me to think outside the box with INTO THE WOODS. I find that too often we look at a work and see what has been done in the past, rather than take the work at face value and try to tell the story as if it were new.

Is there anything that has surprised you in the process of directing INTO THE WOODS?

JS: Guest Artist, Charlie Klesa will play the Narrator as if he is the Baker's son, reliving the stories his father told him. It has been a joy to incorporate the narrator's point of view into the story and tinker with the possibilities that have surfaced.

What role does movement/choreography play in your production of INTO THE WOODS?

JS: In discussing the show with the choreographer, Tracey Bonner, I stressed that I wanted all movement to be character driven and individually motivated. There will be times when the company "dances," but it will be a result of individual intention. It is my hope that dance elements will give the audience a deeper insight into the character's point of view in the same way that the orchestration supports a character's mood or intention.

With the release of the film version of INTO THE WOODS and countless stage productions around the world, why should audiences come see this production?

JS: Our production of INTO THE WOODS will be unique. Arguably Sondheim's most commercial work, it is both entertaining and intellectually stimulating. The concept of choice and consequence is universal and this show continues to stimulate conversation about society. Audiences will notice a nod to the original work, be entranced by fairytale characters, and be intrigued by the ingenuity of this concept production. It is my hope that each audience member will identify with one of the characters, share in their story and root for their success.

For more information, call the NKU School of the Arts Box Office at 859.572.5464 or visit theatre.nku.edu.

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