When Into the Woods, the Stephen Sondheim musical based on the book by James Lapine, opens on November 1, audiences will be treated not only to a compelling story and beautiful music, but also to a very visually exciting production. Staged in the Burdine Johnson Studio Theatre, the set will be limited, so many of the moods and scene changes will be created through lighting.
"We are performing Into the Woods in the round" says Artistic Director, Bridget Farias, which means the audience completely encircles the stage. Because of this, minimal sets and very precise blocking are musts. Lights are used to specify change of mood and setting. They are integral to the process. Luckily, we have a very talented lighting designer working with us and some pretty amazing technical instruments that can add all kinds of magic and charm."
Lighting designer Chris McKnight is in charge of making these effects happen. "A lighting designer's job is to control the atmosphere of the stage", explains Chris. "Human vision is tied very closely to our emotional and empathetic states and lighting design allows us to manipulate this directly to enhance the impact of the production. The basic challenge for lighting any musical is figuring out how to get as much bang as possible out of limited equipment. Musicals are big and showy productions, and lighting must enhance that. Into the Woods is pretty much non-stop, but the setting changes constantly. So the challenge is to keep things moving and not allow it to bog down."
Into the Woods weaves together characters from several familiar fairy tales. When a Baker and his Wife learn they've been cursed with childlessness by the Witch next door, they embark on a quest for the special objects ( a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, a slipper as pure as gold ) required to break the spell, swindling, lying to and stealing from Cinderella, Little Red Riding hood , Rapunzel, and Jack in the process. Everyone's wish is granted at the end of Act One but the consequences of their actions return to haunt them later, with disastrous results. What begins a lively irreverent fantasy becomes a moving lesson about community responsibility and the stories we tell our children.
Into the Woods opens on November 1 and runs on Friday & Saturday evenings at 7:30 and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 through November 24. Tickets are available at www.emilyann.org. Advance purchase is recommended because seating is limited in the Burdine Johnson Studio Theatre. The EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens is located at 1101 FM 2325 in Wimberley.