by Kayla Murphy
Once upon a time… a local college transformed a BlackBox theatre into a desolate and dreary woods from April 25 to April 29.
For those familiar with the comical, fantasy tale of “Into the Woods,” one can recall it’s “Disney-fied” themes of pretty colors and whimsical material. Not this time!
Imagine a set inspired by machinery, technology and industrial revolutionizing fashion. Mix 19th Century British Victorian era with American “Wild West,” and add a dash of post-apocalyptic future, one has themselves a steam-punk dystopian take on classic fairy tales.
“I was really attracted to the desolate isolation feel of our version of the story instead of your typical fairytale,” said scenic and costume designer, Christopher Hoyt.
Costume pieces included brass goggles, flight helmets, pirate bandanas, steel-boning corsets, bell skirts, ruffles, lace, different types of cloaks and jackets, lace, beads, bangles and embroideries.
Freshman Psychology major, Sara Courtemanche, who played the role of Little Red Riding Hood, was elated that this was her first production at Central Connecticut State University.
“I auditioned for Into the Woods because I’ve always wanted to perform in a Sondheim Musical, and Into the Woods is one of my favorites! I was most excited about the dystopian steam punk idea behind our version of the show, and I was really excited to see it all come to life,” said Courtemanche.
In the show, Courtemanche was adorned in her well-known cape, as red as blood, that was decorated with different pins and buttons that created the steampunk look that the designers wanted.
“Steampunk has no rules,” said associate costume designer, Christine Quinones.
Quinones explained the hours of research she did to fully understand the concept of steam-punk. Having to build most of the costumes from scratch, “was a lot of fun to create. I learned not to limit myself with materials. The point of theatre is to create,” Quinones said.
“My favorite part of the show was figuring out the costume aesthetic,” said Hoyt. “Our goal was to visually have unified elements. The sound, lighting, set and costumes all came together. This show is really dark and funny, and we wanted to capture that conceptual look through our story telling.”
The story follows a Baker and his wife, who wish to have a child, Cinderella, who wishes to attend the King’s Festival, and Jack, who wishes his cow would give milk.
When the Baker and his wife learn that they cannot have a child because of a Witch’s curse, the two set off on a journey to break the curse. Everyone’s wish is granted, but the consequences of their actions return to haunt them later with disastrous results.
Director Mike Backes is no stranger to the stage or screen. Since 2001, he’s been acting professionally. It wasn’t until this past summer that Backes wanted to try his hand at directing. “Into the Woods” is one of Backe’s favorite Stephen Sondheim musicals.
“The ‘Woods’ to me symbolizes leaving what you know, trying to make your life better at all costs, and risking everything to get what you want,” Backes said. “True, it’s also saying ‘be careful what you wish for’, but I think it’s deeper than that. It suggests being careful what you do with your wish when you get it. Take care of it, whatever it may be.”
“Into the Woods” concludes CCSU’s Theatre Department 2016-2017 season. After summer break, check out www.ccsu.edu/theatre for updates on the latest CCSU Theatre news.
Disclosure: the author of this article took part in the production of the play and is enrolled in theatre classes