Last weekend was the introduction and eventual conclusion of WCU Theater’s “Into The Woods.”
Stepping into the theater on Wednesday night, the show felt like it had already started. The stage was on the same floor I walked on to get to my seat. The set itself was minimalist, yet versatile. Throughout the show, the set was used to represent a house, the forest, “woods” or anything else the imagination could make up.
Before talking about the show and how it flowed, Director Charlie DelMarcelle and everyone else on the Design Team deserve recognition from the start. Everyone was so prepared and it showed right away.
The show started with many of the characters, including the narrator, setting up the story to be told. We get introduced to almost every character and possibly what conflict they are having, or could potentially have. Without getting into the specifics of the show itself, the actors were very impressive from start to finish.
The Baker and the Baker’s Wife, Shane Wilson and Hope McGinnis respectively, were fantastic all night. They accurately displayed emotions throughout and helped the story flow very nicely. Not only this, but they both had amazing voices. This was on display in the songs “Maybe They’re Magic” and “It Takes Two.” Even though there were serious elements these actors tapped into, they were not shy from letting the comedic elements come through.
Cinderella, played by April Marion, was a very convincing damsel in distress who was unsure of what she wanted throughout most of the show. Her voice shined through as she was often tasked to sing later in her phrases after just speak-singing. Little Red Riding Hood, played by Raven Burckhalter, was a true kid who almost never saw the bad in the world. Accurate to the original story, she always had a smile on her face until she faced the wolf. Although she had her serious moments within the storyline, she provided so much comedic relief and sounded amazing while doing so.
Clare McKernan, who played the Witch, almost stole the entire show. From the moment she stepped on stage, her presence was truly felt. Every audience member was hanging on to every last word she spoke as she grew more comedic throughout. Even though she was obscured by makeup and costume, she sang wonderfully and, at one point, convinced everyone to feel bad for her character.
Jack, played by JT Hawkes, and his mother, played by Sarah Ford, were a charming pair. Their storylines are important throughout, and Jack provided just enough comedic relief to cut through that seriousness. Both of their voices were so pure and endearing that they fit their characters very well. They interacted with a fake cow so well that they made it seem like Milky White was actually living.
To not drag on much, it is important to remember that everyone’s acting and singing was top notch. What was so impressive was everyone’s use of vibrato. There was a point when I noticed that everyone had been using vibrato in really great ways. The speaking into singing that was happening was extremely impressive, as well. No matter the character, big or small, they all contributed massively into making the show the success it was.
The other contributors came from off-stage. The orchestra that set up just beyond the set was very prepared and impressively played every song not too loud or not too soft. The music overall was beautiful and the orchestra did the show’s music justice.
There were so many different ways to enter, exit and move around the set. Choreographer Gretchen Studien-Webb made sure everyone had a space on the stage and used every part of it. The show felt full with only a few characters on the stage at a time. Lighting Designer Juliet Wunsch also played a part in that. The show used lighting for dramatic effects and to spotlight certain characters when needed. At one point, I thought there was a bomb going off, but that was only to represent the major developings happening in one of the scenes. This being said, Sound Designer Keegan Hunsicker used so many sounds throughout that elevated the show to the next level.
Costume Designer Constance Case picked the right costumes for every character. With certain parts of the show needing to be perfect in terms of color, like the red cape and yellow wig, each piece of costuming used and represented throughout were picked so well. Because there were a few quick changes, even some right on stage in front of us, the costumes must have been made and adapted a certain way for everything to flow well. Hair & Makeup Designer Madelyn Ebersole also had something to do with these amazing quick changes. The characters themselves never had a smudged face and were always prepared to be in the spotlight. The makeup done on the wolf and witch deserve so much credit for how realistic they looked out on stage. These two elements went together very well.
Every person involved deserves recognition as the show came to life in front of our eyes. The show continued through the weekend as the magic was still brewing. This show was not easy to do, but WCU made sure to put 100% effort in, and it showed.
To hear more about the show and who was involved, head to:
Timothy Smith is a senior Communication Studies major with a minor in Journalism. TS944841@wcupa.edu