Into the Woods: An Inside Look

Ava Pollock, Staff Writer

On Sept. 10-12 and 17-19, the Children’s Theatre of Elgin/Fox Valley Theatre Company performed the show “Into The Woods.” The show follows the stories of a multitude of different iconic fairytale characters. The main characters are the Baker, the Baker’s Wife, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk. All these characters are seeking to obtain a certain goal from going into the woods.

“Each year, the Fox Valley Theatre Company board assembles an Advisory Board made up of actors and asks for their thoughts and ideas for upcoming shows,” said Elizabeth Niemeier, the Director of Operations. “The last time the group was able to meet was 2019, and they had a fantastic discussion about doing shows with challenging scores and more complex and mature themes. ‘Into the Woods’ made sense, considering this directional choice from the team.”

During the show, COVID-19 restrictions were still in place. The actors all wore clear, elongated masks that enabled them to sing while staying covered. Certain seats were made unavailable so that social distancing could still be practiced while still allowing the audience to enjoy the show.

The team did run into some challenges along the way. Most of them were COVID-19 related, such as wearing masks while rehearsing, COVID-19 restrictions and student conflicts. Despite these challenges, the team pursued and put on a fantastic show. According to the actors, it was nice being back on stage in person. 

“It made the experience a lot better than it would [have been] if it was virtual or Zoom,” said George Whitney, who played the Steward.

Whitney himself had a fun experience playing his role. Since he was allowed the creativity, he decided to put his own unique take on the role.

“The steward is usually played as a basic, butler character. I took it in an annoyed retail employee way. Think Squidward (from the TV show ‘Spongebob Squarepants,’) that was kind of the direction I was taking it,” he said.

The show itself mirrored a normal theater setting. Minus the masks worn by the actors and the audience, it was as if it was a normal performance again.

As for the people working on the show, it was just as much of a joy to work with actors in person again as it was for the actors themselves.

“It was wonderful being able to work in-person with the students again,” said Mike Miserendio, the Show Director. “Students were more engaged and everyone involved had more fun.  Students were challenged and showed great growth as artists — something that was a struggle when rehearsing and performing online.”