Chances are we’re all familiar with the stories of “Cinderella,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Rapunzel.” These fairy tales have been told and retold for ages, ingraining themselves in our memories as tokens of childhood. This weekend, Binghamton University students will be taking on the roles of these classic characters in Hinman Production Company’s (HPC) rendition of “Into the Woods,” a musical that intertwines the plots of classic children’s stories.
As opening night draws closer, the atmosphere at HPC’s dress rehearsal is one of excitement, energy and focus. According to Sophie Cohen, a sophomore double-majoring in integrative neuroscience and Spanish, HPC has been rehearsing “Into the Woods” for the past two and a half months, with initial planning beginning last semester.
Assistant Director Daniel Stark, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, said this production would be especially ambitious.
“This is the biggest scope of a show HPC has ever done,” he said. “It’s the perfect challenge that I really think we needed right now.”
Brian Schwartz, who plays the Baker and is a senior majoring in accounting, stated that HPC voted on performing “Into the Woods” at its pitch meeting last semester.
“A lot of us were really passionate about ‘Into the Woods,’ especially because it’s more of an ambitious production than what HPC usually does,” he said. “We were excited to take on that challenge as actors and directors.”
One of the greatest challenges in producing the musical is the difficulty of executing Stephen Sondheim’s difficult score.
“There are a lot of complicated rhythms and tempos, harmonies and music,” Cohen said.
In addition to challenging music, “Into the Woods” features five different interrelated storylines with a variety of characters. HPC tackled this challenge by double- and triple-casting most of the cast members. For example, Cohen plays the roles of Cinderella’s stepmother, Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother and the birds.
“The way the show is set up, it’s not one scene with a bunch of characters, it’s a bunch of vignettes all at the same time,” Schwartz said.
HPC’s production of “Into the Woods” sets itself apart from those of other theatre groups with its more interpretive and abstract set. Instead of the traditional and more literal “Into the Woods” set, which features trees and houses, HPC took the creative liberty to use mobile wooden staircases to represent the woods and various other settings in the show. The idea for this set originated from the show’s limited budget.
“Normally, this is a show that’s done in a big theater with a lot of space and money, and we simply don’t have the budget to build a gigantic set,” Stark said. “Our director, Anna Rizzotti, took this as an opportunity for a more creative and interactive set design.”
Rizzotti, a senior majoring in mathematics, said she wanted to creatively reimagine the set with these limitations in mind.
“I wanted to design a set that conveys the ever-shifting nature of the woods that was within our budget and logistical capabilities, while helping the story move along,” she said. “It was really cool to see what was once a creative vision come to life.”
Rizzotti said that the show adds life to the characters we grow up with and shows that they, too, are only human.
“The show ends with Cinderella saying ‘I wish’ after all her dreams have been fulfilled, but there’s still a constant want for more and constant dissatisfaction,” she said. “This is something that really hits home for me as I enter the job search senior year.”
The HPC will be performing its rendition of “Into the Woods” at 8 p.m., Nov. 15, 16 and 17, as well as an additional performance at 2 p.m. on Nov. 17. Tickets will be sold at the door for $5.