Illini Student Musicals starts production for Into the Woods


Photo Courtesy of Illini Student Musicals

The Illini Student Musicals puts on a show with masks during the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, Illini Student Musicals will be playing the musical Into the Woods.

By Olivia Vamos, Staff Writer

After more than a year of canceled or socially distanced shows, Illini Student Musicals will be putting on a comparatively normal production of Into the Woods this November. Auditions were held Sept. 7-9, and members said they are ready for a challenge.

Sophia Urban, sophomore in FAA, is the director of the musical. Urban said she likes how collaborative it is and how it gives her a chance to interact with everyone in the cast.

“Preparing for the show for me is just a lot of personal work with making sure I know the script front to back, that I have a specific vision for what the set or for what the other technical aspects need to be so I can communicate that to the other people that are involved,” Urban said.

Lindsey LeBeda, senior in Media, is the artistic lead and vocal director for the show. Anyone from the University can propose a show to the board, Lebeda said, and she is the one who proposed “Into The Woods.”

LeBeda said she chose the show because it is one of her favorite musicals and because people will be able to relate to its message. She also said that it will showcase the current talent in the organization.

Danny Owen, senior in Engineering and president of Illini Student Musicals, said that “Into The Woods” was selected because it is a more challenging show and the organization felt it could handle it. It was also chosen because it’s well known and includes music by Stephen Sondheim.

“I’m the lighting design person myself but I also like doing sound so I get to stay involved in all that as well,” Owens said. “Being president of ISM, we’re a big group of many different kinds of people, we have all different types of majors, people of all different years in school, and just being able to do theater in that environment really is fun and I enjoy being president.”

Owen said that to begin putting on the show, ISM needs to first hire a director, vocal director, music director and a choreographer. Then, it hires the staff for costumes, lighting design, sound design and stage management. Then they cast actors — this show has 18 roles. Once everyone is hired and cast, they will rehearse five days a week for a couple of months. Near the end, everyone involved in the show collaborates on tech week, in preparation for the final show week.

The set team, sound and lighting team and a rehearsal staff will meet to plan a central vision for the show.

LeBeda said there is a lot that goes into putting on “Into The Woods.” There needs to be people that are responsible for budgeting and managing the money for the show. There is a pit orchestra that rehearses the music. The actors have to work on character study, learn the music and memorize their lines. The set crew has to design the set. The building crew needs to find materials to build it. There needs to be people working on the costumes.

LeBeda said that for COVID-19 regulations, all members will continue to wear masks. However, unlike the “Little Women” production the organization put on last semester, the members do not have to practice social distancing.

Masks block sound and half of the face. While performing, actors use their faces to emote.

“Actors have to learn how to completely overdo all of their reactions and facial expressions and a lot of that comes from the eyes and the eyebrows and bigger hand gestures and body movements. The actors really have to stretch themselves and learn how to react in a different way than they ever had to before,” LeBeda said.

All students, faculty and staff will be able to come to the show as long as they wear a mask and their Safer Illinois App grants them building access, Owen said.

Owen said that the show will be held on Friday, Nov. 12 and Saturday, Nov. 13 and that tickets will be $10 for anyone affiliated with the University and $12 for those not affiliated if ISM is able to open the audience to them.


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