The Oakland Post

“Into the Woods” Preview

Dean Vaglia, Staff Intern

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The School of Music, Theatre and Dance (SMTD) kicks off their 2018-2019 theater season Thursday, Oct. 11 with its production of “Into the Woods.”

Created by James Lapine as a book and with musical numbers by Stephen Sondheim, “Into the Woods” takes the characters from the classic fairy tales “Cinderella,” “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Jack and the Beanstalk” and combines them into a new story.  

While SMTD productions are typically directed by Oakland University faculty, “Into the Woods” will be guest directed by Scott Mikita, who is part of the Broadway production of “Phantom of the Opera” as a Swing and played the Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince in a national tour of “Into the Woods.”

“It’s really interesting [working with Scott Mikita],” said Kelsi Fay, who plays Jack’s Mom. “It’s nice to have this outside perspective and he has a lot of knowledge. It’s nice because he’s not typically a director – he’s an actor first – so he knows what actors think and what it’s like to come at a show from that perspective.”

Annika Anderson, who plays the Baker’s Wife, added that Mikita’s experience as an actor has made his approach to the text and the blocking come off as natural.

“He’s able to have those conversations about depth of character with you because he knows what it’s like and knows where to come from,” she said.

Mikita’s approach is not limited to only the acting. Hair and Makeup Designer Lauren Goyer said that the way the Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince characters were designed took influence from Mikita’s experience with the characters.

“Mikita actually played the Wolf in the first national tour of ‘Into the Woods’ and he said he had a prosthetic on his face and it would hurt to rip it off every night, so we wanted to make it as pain free as possible for our actor,” Goyer said.

Goyer has also come up with solutions to the design challenges that “Into the Woods” brings, such as styling the Wolf’s hair to look like wolf ears to cut changing time, creating a costume for the Witch that allows her to go from ugly to beautiful in about 20 seconds and creating the long blonde wig needed for Rapunzel.

A common precaution brought up by actors is that audiences should hold off their judgments for characters until the end despite the familiarity of the characters.

“Definitely look out for stories that even though you might have heard them a lot, they still hold such deep lessons that anyone from a child to an adult – fathers, parents, grandparents – everyone can learn something from this show,” said Robert Smedman, who plays the Baker.  “’Into the Woods’ finds a very human aspect to fairy tales, which is something where human aspects seem to not come up very much. Anyone can insert themselves into these stories and find a lot of meaning and a lot of things to learn.”

Tickets are priced at $22 general, $12 for students and the 10 a.m. matinee.  The show runs until Sunday, Oct. 21.

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