US Theatre Reinvents Classic Musical with Recycled Props

‘Into the Woods’ prepares for March performances

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Darius Sinha, Staff Writer

Surrounded by repurposed egg cartons, newspapers, paint cans, and other recycled materials, the cast of “Into the Woods” are taking the old and making it new in a variety of ways with the production of the show.

Upper School (US) Theater Design and Production Coordinator Adam Howarth and the 12 students on the production crew have worked to design the set with sustainability in mind. Mr. Howarth said he was inspired to create the set using only recycled materials after seeing Thomas Dambo’s art installation, “The Future Forest,” in Mexico City.

After sending out a What’s Happening email asking for donations of materials, Mr. Howarth made 90% of the set using recycled materials.

“Trying to create life-size trees out of recyclable materials has been really fun, and the students who are working on the production crew have been instrumental in figuring out what those look like,” he said.

Juliet Shaywitz ’23, who is on the stage crew, said the recycled set embodies themes of “Into the Woods.”

“The use of recycled materials is super effective in reinforcing the environmental themes of the show,” they said. “The recycled materials create a world for the actors to build up and immerses the audience.”

In keeping with the theme of recycled materials, US Costume Designer Louise Brown has been modifying thrifted quilts, blankets, fabrics, yarn, and stock constumes.

“We are looking at using repurposed, redesigned, and restructured materials to help build our characters’ world and to fit with the theme of using stuff that people have discarded,” she said.

Actors also experienced new processes—theirs came in the form of two-week-long, workshop-style auditions in lieu of traditional auditions.

Hannah Curhan ’23, who plays Lucinda, one of Cinderella’s step- sisters, said she appreciated the forgiving nature of the workshop process.

“Everyone has good and bad days, so the fact that we had two weeks to audition, let us, if we had a bad day, recover so that Mr. MacDonald could still see our overall ability level,” she said.

Ensemble Member Nandita Aggarwal ’25 said she appreciated the longer timeline to convey her acting potential.

“It was like an audition, but it was a more even playing field,” she said.

Mr. MacDonald said he is very pleased with the final cast–a group of 22 students.

“This is a group of amazing individuals and an amazing company; they’re caring, they’re sensitive, and they’re passionate,” he said.

Mr. MacDonald said the cast understands that the show is about “family, parents, children, expectations, and not always getting what you want” and is confident that the cast will take on this “challenging show.”

“We have to recognize that people face challenges,” he said, “and this show represents that.”

CC Chung ’22 is taking on a new challenge by playing Cinderella’s prince. Playing a male role allows her to “push personal boundaries,” she said.

“When I came in as a freshman, I thought I was in the high vocal range when singing but, working on deeper singing, I feel that this is a good culmination of all the work I’ve done vocally,” she said.

Daisy Simboli ’24, who works with Educational Support Associate Amanda Lewis, Mr. MacDonald, and US Chorale and Acapella Teacher Joel Sindelar to choreograph dance numbers, has helped CC step into the male role through posture and movement work. Daisy said choreographing gave her the opportunity to be a part of the production without taking the stage.

“The whole cast is working really hard, and they’re really passionate about what they’re doing, so I’m really excited for it all to come together,” she said.

Gillian Goddard ’22, who is playing Cinderella, said she appreciated the community the cast has become.

“At the end of our rehearsals we do ‘thank you’ circles where we go around and say thank you to the people standing next to us in the circle,” she said. “I think it’s a fun and cute tradition.”

The “Into the Woods” cast will take the Lindberg-Serries Theater Stage on March 3, 4, and 5.