IUB presents Grimms’ tales

By Phil Collins

The cast bustled around the dressing rooms in the basement of Foellinger Auditorium. Actors warmed up their voices and hurried about in costumes ranging from princes and princesses to a wolf and a witch. On stage, the orchestra practiced parts of the score, lights flashed and set pieces were moved into position.

Three days before opening night, the cast, crew and orchestra prepared for a full run through of the Illini Union Board’s production of “Into the Woods.”

The rehearsal ran smoothly, with only a few visible hitches.

“Now, we’re at a point where we’ve got everything solid and we’re just cleaning up little things, making the show that much better,” said Clara Wong, sophomore in LAS who plays the part of Cinderella.

The show, written by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine in 1986, is a fusion of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales along with characters of their own.

Well-known protagonists, including Jack (“Jack and the Beanstalk”), Cinderella, Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood intertwine with original characters like a Baker and his wife, as they seek their respective roads to happiness. However, this is not a conventional fairy tale.

“The second act is kind of an oppositional reading on your traditional fairy tale,” said Dan Newman, junior in Communications and producer of the show.

The second act explores what happens after “happily ever after.”

“That’s what makes this show art,” said Kory Heitzig, senior in LAS and director of the show. “It really makes you look at happiness. Getting everything you want – is that really something that’s going to make you happy?”

This is Heitzig’s seventh semester with Illini Union Board Musicals. He has been an accompanist and a cast member in previous productions, but this is his first time directing.

“‘Into the Woods’ is a show that I really like and understand,” he said. “I really wanted to get behind the reigns this semester because I knew I could do it justice.”

Heitzig stressed how smoothly the production has gone. He said the cast learned the show in a month, leaving an extra month to clean things up.

“It’s a really challenging show,” Newman said. “There are a lot of very tricky little musical things. Stephen Sondheim is known for having intricacy in the score. At one point you may have six different people singing different lyrics all at the same time, with music that doesn’t quite go with the beat.”

In addition to attending practices from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, the cast helped build the set.

“Not only are we acting, but we also have this integral role in helping create the environment that we perform in,” Wong said.

Although Newman said the auditions were competitive – more than 80 people tried out – the show has a cast of just 18 members.

“We’re pretty tight knit because it’s not a huge cast,” said Kyle Downs, a junior in Business who plays Rapunzel’s prince.

“Into the Woods” will go on stage this Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in Foellinger Auditorium.