A moment in the woods: UNF Musical Theatre Club’s “Into the Woods” review


Courtesy of UNF Musical Theatre Club.

Kaitlyn Anderson

I sat down among the full house of the lucky people that made it to the Andrew Robinson Theater for the UNF Musical Theatre Club’s “Into the Woods.”

Courtesy of UNF Musical Theatre Club.

With very little knowledge of the play itself besides my short acting career in 7th grade, when I myself played Rapunzel in my school’s very own rendition, I was off to the show, excited but wary of the threat of being upstaged by this actresses’ portrayal of Rapunzel.

Written at the bottom of the OspreyBill Director’s Note was a line that struck me and held me through the show. “It is a story of wishes, tragedy, and hope. I hope that you walk away with at least one message: No one is alone.”

At the beginning of the show, first time student director, Brittany Nievinski spoke, welcoming the audience. She mentioned how working on a production creates a family environment.

Watching the show, the comfort that the actors display on stage shows that her words are true.

When the lights started to dim, a hush filled the theater. A woman appeared in the right-hand corner (stage left corner) with a dusty book. She blows the dust off and opens it. The actors start moving but there is no sound. Then, the whoosh of the instruments, followed by the Narrator’s (Gabrielle Burns) most often spoken words throughout the evening, “once upon a time,” fill the theater.

With the whirl of her baton, the Orchestra Conductor Kylie Copeland signals the pit orchestra to play, and that they do. With that, the characters start to come to life while the orchestra narrates. Live music stems from the pit of the stage, highlighting every character’s detailed motions. 

Lighting Design coordinator Joshua Turner knows what he is doing when it comes to colors, giving each plot a different color to associate itself with. With five conflicting storylines, the changing lighting gives leeway to a piece of the puzzle. At times when more than one plotline is shown on the stage, the lighting shows every character’s color on the backdrop.

“Into the Woods” is a spin-off of classic Grimm Brother tales. Five conflicting plot lines go on throughout the play including Rapunzel (Jade Marino), Little Red Riding Hood (Alyssa Billings), Cinderella (Jordan Leone), The Baker and his Wife, and Jack (Alex Russo) and the Beanstalk. All of the stories are linked together, being set in the same Kingdom and time period.

During the first act, every character is on their own journey, running into other characters, but still with an end goal of their own. The Baker (Kyle Cohen) and his Wife (Samantha Powell), cursed with infertility from the Witch (Emma Finnegan), go on a journey into the woods to find the ingredients that will bring them a child. The Witch’s riddle for fertility: the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, the slippers as pure as gold. Along the way, the Baker and his Wife run into the other characters in the woods, linking the plot lines together. Needing these items from the characters, but trying to help out along the way, the Baker and the Wife portray the blurred line between good and bad when it comes to being selfish.

By the second act, their ideology changes. With a giant on the loose, the group of townspeople have to band together.

Although I spent two hours at the theatre, it felt like just a short moment in the woods. I was captivated by the students’ performances and their responses to the audience’s reaction. I left the theatre with a sense of belonging, a spirit of never being alone.

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