Imagine living in a place where the divas of classic fairy tale stories roam the streets mingling and coexisting. There is only one word that could follow the socialization of these characters – chaos. Into the Woods is a fairy tale musical that differs from other musicals and mirrors reality. It reinforces the old proverb “be careful what you wish for,” and it gives
Tyler Junior College theater students’ new opportunities to experience.
“You take Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, the Baker and his wife, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty on steroids…now mix it up in a bowl and toss it out,” Dr. Crawford, TJC theater professor and director of this years musical, said of Into the Wood’s storyline as he leans over his wooden desk, hands clasped together. “Normally speaking they stand alone, but now we mix it all up and they all interweave, they all interplay and come in contact with some of the most beautiful music you’ve ever heard.”
Dr. Crawford and the musical director, Nathan Russell, are the two people who are overseeing most of the show’s planning. “I’m heavily dependent on him and he’s heavily dependent
on me,” Dr. Crawford said of Russell. “Now we need each other to put together a musical….It’s a total give and take.”
The collaboration of directors who work on a musical of this caliber is what can make or break a show. Each director provides his own input and artistic touch to the show.
“I think the strength of a good solid musical is the ability to work together, the creative process, which is what theater is all about and which is the first thing we have a tendency to forget sometimes,” Dr. Crawford said.
All musicals are challenging in their own right because of the difficulty of meshing acting with singing. Into the Woods seems to stand apart from the rest because the story is told mostly through song with very little regular dialogue.
“The music is very demanding,” Dr. Crawford said.
This year’s musical is also different because there will not be much dancing involved, and it relies heavily on the songs to tell the story. The cast of the show is quite large and is made up of 21 characters. Many students think that the audition process for a musical is very intense and are already getting nervous.
“Now we have to balance music talent and acting talent…. It’s very intimidating when you come in because so much rests on that,” Megan Bryant, a TJC sophomore, said of the musical’s auditions.
Anticipation fills the halls of the Wise Cultural Arts building as the students grow anxious about the upcoming challenges of preparing for a musical. Everything from auditions to rehearsal schedules will change come December, creating a huge shift in pace.
Even though auditions are more stressful for some students, they enjoy watching the whole process unfold. They find it interesting to see how their fellow students react to the pressures of auditions.
“Some people are naturally not afraid of singing at all, and so they come in with really, really strong vocals and it’s amazing. It’s really fun to watch, which is why a musical is so great because it is so different. You get to see a different side of a person you know,” Bryant said adding that she often thinks to herself ‘Oh, I didn’t know they could sing. Wow, they totally can’. It’s awesome.”
Musicals give the students a chance to experience that kind of public revelation that they would have missed out on in a regular show’s audition. It pushes the actors to work out of their own comfort zones and work to improve their craft.
It also teaches the students to handle a heavier workload and shows them how to deal with time management. It makes the students prioritize their responsibilities.
“It really is about how much time you’re willing to sit down and work with your audition pieces,” Bryant said of being successful in a musical. “You’ve got to practice.”