Fab Nobs’ upcoming production of Into the Woods has been greatly anticipated. The level of talent in the production alone is reason enough to draw in a substantial crowd to this fan-favourite show, but throw the recent hit Hollywood movie into the mix, and the relatively long amount of time since the show has been produced in Melbourne’s amateur circles, and the intimate production has become a must-see.
Notable for so many reasons – most of which are held to be so self-evident to fanatics that it would be an insult to try and list them here – Sondheim’s Into the Woods holds a special place in many theatre lovers’ hearts (at least in part) due to its array of intricate and theatrical characters playing out their twisted, interwoven narratives. We spoke to three of Into the Woods’ leading ladies to discuss their characters, the production’s unique take on the classic tale, and their many loves of the show.
What makes Into the Woods so special, we asked? “I think it is the writing – it is a real actor’s piece. The characters are fairytale… but then you discover so much more,” states Lizzie Matjacic, who plays the Witch, distilling her connection to the piece. “The cleverness and intricacy of the plot is truly magical.” Lizzie passionately emphasises the human side of her character – “Yes, she is selfish and enjoys having power over others, but then there is this connection with Rapunzel… she genuinely loves her. She has a heart.” Matjacic is most looking forward to solidifying this humanistic side of the Witch thorough her maternal connection with the golden-haired damsel. “I most love the scene with Rapunzel, Stay With Me, because that is where I get to portray the human side of the Witch.” Among the chaotic high drama of curses, magic, life and death, it is the calm, delicate, human moments that are often the most memorable.
Kat Elliott, who plays The Baker’s Wife, feels a sense of innate familiarity with the text. “It’s just one of those musicals that I feel like I’ve always known and loved.” Despite this deep-rooted familiarity, she finds that “there are always new discoveries to be made about the characters and concepts” in the show. When finding inspiration for her characterisation of The Baker’s Wife, instead of turning to the many iconic interpretations of incarnations gone by, she finds her elemental information from the script’s rich pages. “Her inherent strength and intelligence is so vivid in the writing of The Baker’s Wife. I’m just trying to honour her strengths and flaws as best I can.” Though she is so intertwined into the spangled fabric of Into the Woods, Elliott identifies The Baker’s Wife as somewhat of an outsider in her own enchanted surroundings. “She sits a little separate from the other characters who are more directly drawn from fairytales, even stating herself that she’s in the wrong story.” The very nature of storytelling is thrown topsy-turvy in this special show.
Cinderella is one of the less exaggerated characters in the show, says Rachael Conway, who is looking forward to stepping into the charmed shoes of the iconic character. “A huge challenge is making sure that the character is genuine to the audience. She’s surrounded by over-the-top characters, but that’s not really what she’s about,” she states. But it hasn’t been too difficult to find her kinship with the downtrodden princess. “Anyone that knows me knows that I’m the world’s biggest klutz, so playing a character that’s constantly falling down is somewhat a relief – no grace required!” Conway has drawn her character’s humanity from another angle, too – one that touches on a universal theme that many will identify with. “She’s such a kind person, and in some ways I feel like she’s a character who is looking for a cause bigger than her own, and I really identify with that.” Aren’t we all striving for something larger than our own world? This perhaps reflects the very existential reason why many of us are pulled by our souls to the theatre itself.
We asked what sets Fab Nobs’ production apart from every other production of Into The Woods that audiences are likely to have seen in their theatre-loving lives. Matjacic explains that “our production will be very intimate in the limited space we have at Fab Nobs. I hope the audience feel like they are in the woods with us.” No doubt that they will be swept away, absorbed, into the enchanting world that has been created. “The space has been transformed into an evocative and memorable setting. Nick and Emma have created a really dynamic and interesting stage,” states Elliott. “The team have really focused on telling these stories with both the energy of the fairytale pantomime tradition, and the real emotions of human relationships which are, I believe, always captured most organically by good theatre actors in an intimate space.” Conway also identifies the visual design of the production to be a truly unique sight to behold – “The design sets this show apart – our directors wanted people to feel like the show is being performed by a “troupe” of actors, and our set is stylised to reflect that.”
Fab Nobs’ innovative spirit, unique production, and tight cast, will make this show truly magical. Come and witness this talent-filled production, but be careful what you wish for…
Ticket information can be found at this link.