The University of Kansas
317-A Murphy Hall
1530 Naismith Drive
Lawrence, KS 66045
Story by Charla Jenkins
LAWRENCE---The University of Kansas Theatre is staging the popular musical, "Into the Woods" at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10, 15, 16, 17 and at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 11 and 18 in the Crafton-Preyer Theatre in Murphy Hall. The play features a book by James Lapine and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
John Staniunas, associate professor of theatre, is directing and choreographing the musical; Ryan McCall, University Theatre accompanist, is musical director and conductor of the nine-piece orchestra for the production. Cynthia Evans, a second-year graduate student in scenography, is scenic designer; Dennis Christilles, associate professor of theatre, is lighting designer, and Delores Ringer, associate professor of theatre, is costume designer.
"Into the Woods" debuted in in 1986 at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, CA, and premiered on Broadway in 1987. Bernadette Peters' performance as the Witch and Joanna Gleason's portrayal of the Baker's Wife brought wide acclaim to the production during its original Broadway run, and it won several Tony Awards, including Best Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a Musical
Combining the well-known fairy tales of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Little Red Riding Hood with the story of a Baker and his Wife, "Into the Woods" follows the characters as they further explore the consequences of their characters' wishes and quests.
"Fairy tales and folk stories are among the oldest forms of literature and the abundance of these tales is powerful testimony to the great desire of humans everywhere for a good story," Staniunas explained. "Unlike myths and legends, which are meant to teach, to indoctrinate, to pass on the culture’s central beliefs, fairy tales exist primarily to entertain."
In the musical play, the Baker and his Wife desperately want a child, but have been cursed with childlessness by a witch. They must perform various missions involving the characters in the other fairy tales to break the spell.
"After a series of failed attempts, the two finally are able to perform the tasks necessary to break the spell," Staniunas said. "Once the characters have accomplished their goals, they then learn about the pitfalls of greed and gluttony. Finally, they learn about the need for community and family when they must unite to fight against the wife of the giant Jack killed who has decided to come back for revenge."
Staniunas said that in addition to being immensely entertaining stories, fairy tales derive much of their power and enduring hold over us from the fact that they contain elements that are deeply ingrained in the human psyche and are very basic to our emotional, psychological and spiritual development.
"For such important figures as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Bruno Bettelheim and Joseph Campbell, fairy tales are the gateway to the unconscious and lead to startlingly and profoundly important insights into what it is to be human," he explained. "The fairy tales of 'Into the Woods' accomplish the traditional and the modern functions: they are both rousing entertainment and also mirrors of the soul."
All fairy tales are parables about steps to maturity, Staniunas said.
"The final step is when you become responsible for the people around you, when you feel connected to the rest of the world. For Lapine, the second act of the musical is very much about the legacy of what our parents teach us and how, even if we’ve rebelled against them, we hand that down to our children."
Reserved seat tickets for "Into the Woods" are on sale in the KU ticket offices: University Theatre, 864-3982, and Lied Center, 864-ARTS, and on-line at kutheatre.com. Tickets are $20 for the public, $19 for senior citizens and KU faculty and staff, and $10 for all students.
The University Theatre will host more than 950 Kansas high school theatre and music students for a special matinee performance Thursday, Nov. 15.
Members of the cast for the KU musical production include (listed by name, class, major, parents’ names, high school, and role):
DOUGLAS COUNTY From Lawrence 66044
Lily Lancaster, freshman, theatre major, daughter of Leslie Bennett and Josh Rosenbloom and Bruce Lancaster, Lawrence Free State High School, Snow White. From Lawrence 66049
Katherine Dick, junior, vocal performance major, daughter of Keith and Jeannette Dick, Lawrence Free State High School, Sleeping Beauty.
JOHNSON COUNTY From Fairway 66205
Joe Winans, graduate student, opera performance major, son of Paula Winans and Dave Winans, Leavenworth High School, Rapunzel’s Prince. From Leawood 66209
Sara J. Blakesley, graduate student, music major, daughter of Scott and Joyce Blakesley, Blue Valley North High School, Cinderella’s Stepmother. From Olathe 66061
Elaina Smith, junior, theatre/voice major, daughter of Gary and Betty Smith, Olathe North High School, Jack’s Mother. From Olathe 66062
Alexander Goering, senior, vocal performance major, son of Mr. and Mrs. Barton L. Goering, Spring Hill High School, Jack.
From Overland Park 66209 Sofia Belhouari, freshman, design and musical theatre majors, daughter of
Sandra Graantello, Blue Valley North High School, Cinderella. From Overland Park 66213
Katie Martin, sophomore, music therapy major, daughter of Paul and Maura Martin, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Lucinda. From Overland Park 66221
Hailey Lapin, junior, theatre and journalism majors, daughter of Todd Lapin, Blue Valley Northwest High School, Florinda. From Shawnee 66216
Andrew Shaw, junior, music education major, son of Pam and Greg Shaw, Shawnee Misssion Northwest High School, Cinderella’s Father. From Shawnee 66217
Shannon Buhler, senior, theatre performance major, daughter of Paul and Sherry Buhler, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, Baker’s Wife.
RENO COUNTY From Hutchinson 67501
Lynsey Becher, senior, theatre performance major, daughter of Pat and Jan Becher, Hutchinson High School, Cinderella’s Mother/Giant/Grandmother.
SEDGWICK COUNTY From Wichita 67235
Jonathan Chapman, freshman, engineering major, son of Katherine Newton and Timothy Chapman, Beloit, Maize High School, Steward.
SHAWNEE COUNTY From Topeka 66604
Charlie Stock, senior, theatre performance, son of Mark Stock and Sally Fox, Washburn Rural High School, Narrator and the Mysterious Man.
MARYLAND From Williamsport 21795
Ed Schubel, senior, theatre/voice major, son of Scott and Nettie Schubel, Williamsport High School, Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf.
MISSOURI From Fayette 652478
Lacey Eaton, graduate student, voice major, daughter of Fred and Sheri Eaton, Fayette High School and Central Methodist University, Rapunzel. From Wildwood 63038
Jaclyn Nischbach, freshman, theatre major, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Mark Nischbach, Eureka High School, Little Red Riding Hood.
PENNSYLVANIA From Wexford 15090
Julia Geisler, graduate student, opera performance, daughter of Lloyd and Robin Geisler, Witch.
WEST VIRGINIA From Morgantown 26505
Joseph Carr, senior, theatre/voice and music education, son of Tim and Margaret Carr, Lawrence Free State High School, Baker.