By AKASH ADANI, sophomore
The audience watched intently as it was mesmerized by the actors, entranced by the singing, and captivated by the unfolding tale. Changing moods in the play enlivened the story and provided great entertainment. The JP Stevens Theatre production, Into The Woods, drew in hundreds of spectators with its intricate plot line executed expertly through the combined efforts of the cast, crew, and pit band.
Into The Woods combines the well-known tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel with a story of a baker and his wife who want to break the curse of infertility on their family. In order to break the spell cast by their neighboring witch, the baker and his wife need to obtain a cow as white as milk from Jack, a cape as red as blood from Little Red Riding Hood, hair as yellow as corn from Rapunzel, and a slipper as pure as gold from Cinderella.
To put on a show of such calibre, actors took part in rigorous rehearsals and spent hours memorizing lines and lyrics. During the week prior to the first performance, actors and crew members held daily rehearsals that often went late into the night. Sophomore Priya Mukherjee remarked, “Tech week keeps us in school until 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. On Saturdays, during construction, the crew is busy working on the set from sunrise to sunset.” Over many weeks, the art crew designed the forest scene on the back wall, painted the tree, and created Cinderella’s house, Jack’s house, the bakers’ house, and Rapunzel’s tower.
Similar to a magician’s trick, the magic in this musical occurred where the audience wasn’t looking. Backstage, the crew worked frantically to keep the show running smoothly. Whether a microphone malfunctioned or a set piece needed to be changed, someone was always prepared to do whatever was necessary. Facing the inevitable challenges of live performances, the JP Stevens Theatre Company relied heavily on the art and technical crew, who were well-equipped with the skills to save the show. Sophomore Hannah Xue, who worked backstage during the performances, said, “What you see onstage is made possible by what happens backstage. I make sure mics function properly so that they can be heard in the auditorium. Prop people are constantly on standby to make sure everything is in the right place. There are even hair and makeup people there to assist with quick costume changes. But the most important roles lie in the hands of the people in the booth; they’re the ones who control the show. They’re in charge of lighting and sound, which can make or break a show.” Notably, the students in charge of lighting simulated a giant using shadows and an electronically modified voice.
As with all successful musicals, the music ties everything together. Students from orchestra and band volunteered to play music during the show to accompany the actors’ singing. The nature of live performances again demanded much more from these musicians than regular concerts. “Pit music is actually some of the hardest music out there as it is always written in uncommon keys and time signatures,” sophomore bassoonist Jack Wu explained. “The hardest part of pit is that no two shows are ever the same. Maintaining consistency is what really makes it difficult, but you always feel great after a successful show.”
Despite the occasional hardships, Into the Woods was another successful production by the JP Stevens Theatre Company. Most importantly, the musical created strong bonds among all the members. Sophomore Matt Flores, who played Jack, said, “The musical has been so important to me because I get to do what I love with the people I love. The company has truly become a family, and I admire how all of us share the same passion. We have worked extremely hard to get to where we are.”
In the end, roughly 150 hours of rehearsal and hard work led to a production nothing less than excellent.