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Act 1 Closes Season with "Into the Woods"

by Matthew Smaldone '20 Apr 10, 2018

A Magical Musical of Interwoven Fairytales

Act 1 DeSales University Theatre presents the final production of its 2017-2018 Main Stage season with Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's inventive musical, Into the Woods. The production opens April 25 and runs to May 6 on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, Center Valley, PA.

Into the Woods is set in a mysterious forest filled with surprises around every turn. "Sondheim and Lapine wanted to write a quest musical," says performing arts head John Bell, "so they invented a Baker and his Wife—seeking to lift a witch's spell that has left them childless—and dropped them in the middle of a fairy tale world." Joining the couple is a myriad of discontented fairytale characters, including Cinderella, Jack (of beanstalk fame), Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood, who travel through the woods in hopes of finding better lives. As the characters search out their wishes, their paths intersect and the resulting fairytale jumble leaves the group struggling with the consequences of wishing your life away. "Into the Woods is both enjoyable and impactful, invoking both laughs and tears as the travelers grow and discover that life isn't always a fairytale," says Bell. "With Sondheim classics such as 'Children Will Listen' and 'No One Is Alone,' this powerful story breaks the time-honored mold and asks what it truly means to live 'happily ever after.' The plot is ingenious, and there are many choice roles in the musical— especially for women—one of the reasons why we chose to produce it."

John Bell is a noted Sondheim scholar having performed a professional internship at the Old Globe Theatre on the world premiere of Into the Woods. He has been widely published and served as a guest editor of The Sondheim Review and Everything Sondheim. Serving as the head of the division of performing arts at DeSales University, Bell teaches courses in musical theatre acting, musical theatre history, and music theory.

The production is directed by faculty member Anne Lewis. "There are many lessons in this show but the most salient one for me was: Actions Have Consequences," says Lewis. "We make choices to accomplish goals. And, invariably, those choices affect other people both positively and negatively. In this piece there are some very serious repercussions to decisions that were made. And now these fairy tale characters are left with no storyteller to figure out what their next action/decision should be."

Into the Woods is choreographed by Tim Cowart, chair of the department of dance, and musical directed by Nancy Moser Collins. The forest comes to life through the expertise of Act 1's resident creative faculty team, scenic designer Will Neuert and costume designer Amy Best. Guest artists Eric T. Haugen and Justin Propper designed the lighting and sound, respectively.

Considered alongside Richard Rodgers and Leonard Bernstein as one of the few truly dramatic musical storytellers in the American theatre, Stephen Sondheim has been lauded for his sixty-year career writing some of the most seminal works in the American musical theatre including the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy and the music and lyrics for Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, and Sunday in the Park with George, among others. His score for Into the Woods is considered a masterpiece for his use of leitmotif and theme and variation.

Award-winning director/playwright James Lapine is regarded as a major figure in American theatre. Lapine's introduction to composer Stephen Sondheim led to a discussion on the haunting image of Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. The resulting Sunday in the Park with George became a groundbreaking musical garnering twoTony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. Lapine continued to create more award-winning shows with Sondheim—including Into the Woods, Passion, and Sondheim on Sondheim.

Into the Woods runs April 25 to May 6 on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts. Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m.. A talk back with the director and cast is scheduled for Sunday, April 29 after the 2:00 p.m. performance. There is a morning matinee on Monday, April 30 at 9:30 a.m, also followed by a talk back with the director and cast. An additional matinee is scheduled at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 5.

In an effort to improve accessibility for all patrons, the Saturday, May 5, 2:00 p.m.performance will feature Open Captioning for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing and Audio Descriptions for patrons who are blind or visually impaired. During Open Caption performances, all dialogue and sound effects are presented in real-time on an LED screen that is adjacent to the stage. During Audio Described performances, all action and physical appearances are described live through a headset. Tickets are half price for patrons using these special services on this date. Please call box office manager Nicole Moyer at 610-282-3654, ext. 1 for more information.

Ticket prices are $29 for adults and $27 for students and seniors on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and $30 for adults and $28 for students and seniors on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Group discounts are available for all performances. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Labuda Center box office at 610-282-3192 or by visiting the website at

The Labuda Center is fully accessible and equipped with a listening enhancement system. Special seating is available for our patrons using wheelchairs or requiring other assistance. Please inform the box office of your needs when ordering tickets.