Each year, one the highlights of the homecoming activities is the homecoming play. This year, Graceland University actors are showcasing Into the Woods, a musical by Stephen Sondheim. The musical is a unique take on traditional fairy tales, and is directed by Gary Heisserer.
The play begins when a baker and his wife learn they have been cursed with childlessness. The witch next door tells them the only cure is a quest for special objects including a white cow, a red cape, yellow hair, and a golden slipper. As you might have guessed, these items are stolen from familiar characters like Jack, the boy who climbed the beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Cinderella. The play follows not only the baker and his wife’s quest, but other familiar characters as well.
Jenna Pitstick, assistant stage manager, insists that everyone on campus during homecoming comes to see the play. “It’s a fairy tale with a dark twist on how people normally see fairy tales. It’s not the Disney version, it’s more like the Grimm brothers edition, although still appropriate for kids.” Pitstick says, “I’ve seen the play before, a broadway version, on TV and I believe the actors in this production are so good and so focused that it’s almost like I’m watching it on screen again.”
Jessica Gunter, an actress who plays Cinderella’s mother, says that it will be a “very big production.” There are a lot of cast members in this play, and the sheer number of actors makes it incredible. Pitstick says that in addition to many returning actors, there are a lot of strong new members in the play, like first-year student Mancy Oney, who plays the witch. Pitstick says, “She’s fabulous, a powerhouse, and the witch is an important role.”
Pitstick’s job consists of helping the director and actors pull off the play. “I help the actors with their lines during rehearsals, make sure everyone comes to practices, and help out with sound,” she says. Her favorite part of the musical is the reprise of “Agony,” a song about two princes wishing they could find their princesses. Pitstick loves the humor and the actors who sing the song.
“We are putting a lot of work into this play,” says Pitstick. “Everyone has made a huge time commitment; not just the actors, but all of the backstage people, too.” The final week leading up to homecoming has been the busiest. “We will have four dress rehearsals,” says Pitstick. Gunter says, “Everyone is working and practicing so hard, and the set and costumes look amazing. We really hope everyone will come out to see it.”
Admission to the play is ten dollars, and performances are as follows:
Wednesday, October 15: Preview performance at 7:30pm
Thursday, October 16: Opening performance at 7:30pm
Friday, October 17: Performance at 7:30pm
Saturday, October 18: Performance at 7:30pm
Sunday, October 19: Performance at 2:00pm