It’s been almost a year since Rob Marshall’s big screen adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical, Into the woods, hit cinemas. Marshall’s film took the classic Stephen Sondheim work to a bigger audience than ever before.
And now, fans old and new in the greater Sydney area can experience this much-loved show live on stage, as Blacktown Theatre Company brings Into the Woods to Penrith’s Q Theatre.
Theatre People spoke to assistant director, Erin Davison, on the eve of the company’s first show. “We’re definitely ready to get into the theatre,” she tells us. “The rehearsal process has been going really well. Because Sondheim’s music is so beautiful, but difficult as well, we spent the first four weeks of rehearsal concentrating solely on the music, and didn’t worry about any blocking or characterisations.”
Having gone through an intense rehearsal period, the company is excited to finally put their work before an audience.
So why was the decision made to take on this classic piece in this the company’s 15th year? “Our committee picked it because Blacktown Theatre Company hasn’t really done a big difficult musical in quite some time,” according to Davison. “We were looking to do something moving and Angela [Hanna], the director, and I were passionate about doing Into the woods.”
Of course, fans of the original 1987 Broadway production know that Into the woods on stage arrives at a slightly different conclusion to that with which film fans will be familiar. “The movie…explored the Broadway musical pretty well, [but] we felt it left out some key points,” Davison says. “We wanted the general public to know that not everything has a happy ending…We want to show the true ending for this beautiful masterpiece.”
While the complexity of Sondheim’s score was an obvious challenge during rehearsals, don’t think for a second this cast won’t deliver the goods come opening night. Davison tells Theatre People it’s been hugely rewarding watching cast members develop their characters in recent weeks. “I now don’t see Bernadette Peters as the witch,” she says. “I see our witch, Erin Bogart, who is phenomenal!”
Similarly, Davison reports no shortage of talent in the creative team. “We have an amazing artistic director who has bought this set to life with her imagination and innovation. It’s just beautiful.
“We have a really great production team. We all work cohesively together…We all have the same vision and know what we need to do to move this thing forward and for it to be one of the best productions for Blacktown Theatre Company, especially for our 15th anniversary year.”
Davison has been involved with Blacktown Theatre Company for an impressive 12 years. Beginning as an ensemble member in Oliver, she now assumes a number of senior roles behind the scenes in the company. “I’ve grown with the company, and we really encourage that. Quite a few people grow with the company, and move into other things, going to drama schools like NIDA and AIM.”
So why should audiences make the journey to the Q Theatre over the coming nights? We asked Davison to give us a glimpse into what’s in store. “It’s something new and different, not just for amateur theatre, but I think for professional theatre as well. Our use of old and new technology is definitely something very innovative. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, without giving too much away, about what we’ve done with the set and the costuming, and our performers are beautiful. You will be transported to another world when you come and see this production!”
Blacktown Theatre Company’s Into the woods begins Wed 30 Sept at the Q Theatre in the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre (597 High St, Penrith)
Performances run until Sat 3 Oct.
Tickets start from $30 and can be purchased here.