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God is in the Details

Stephen Sondheim is unquestionably the greatest writer on


Broadway of the last half-century. His trophy cabinet includes an
Academy Award, eight Grammys, and eight Tony Awardsthe
most won by any composer. An only child, he had a troubled
youth; after his parents early divorce, he was ignored by his father
and resented by his mother. Stephen said in an interview in 1994,
When my father left her, she substituted me for him. And she
used me the way she used him, to come on to and to berate,
beat up on, you see. What she did for five years was treat me like
dirt, but come on to me at the same time. Later in life she wrote
to him that the only regret [she] ever had was giving him birth;
Stephen did not attend her funeral.
His saving grace was a friendship with James Hammerstein, son
of Oscar Hammerstein II, whose famous partnership with Richard
Rodgers produced many of the great early Broadway shows, such
as The Sound of Music and Carousel. Oscar took Stephen on as a
surrogate son, and it was through this mentorship that he learnt
his craft.
A passionate teacher, Sondheim has always refuted the idea of
genius, or exceptional inspiration; he is adamant that his work is
a result of years of experience, training, successes, and failures
consummate professionalism. His three mantras are Less is
More, Content Dictates Form, and God is in the Detailsall
in the service of clarity, without which noting else matters.
Nowhere is this clearer than in Into the Woods. The economy
with which he spins out an entire musical score from the rising
two-note motif that opens (and closes) the showI wishis a
perfect example of less being more. Why did he pick such
a compressed, truncated motif? It is because Cinderella is too
repressed to sing anything more expansive. The omnipresence of

this tiny fragment in the score is indicative not just of her being a
key character in the story, but of wishing being the key character.
To give but one example of how he takes ideas and finds new
meanings in them, this motif appears, repeated on a loop, as
the accompaniment for much of Cinderellas music, such as A
Very Nice Prince; it oscillates back and forth in a wonderfully
succinct realisation of her chronic indecisiveness. God really is
in the details. There is no sense, though, that Sondheim overintellectualized on these moments and ideasthey are natural
and expressive, and from that loyalty to the content, comes the
perfect form of this musical.
There is always a song in a Sondheim show that is not overtly
meant to be about the entire show, but just happens to be just
thatSend in the Clowns does this in A Little Night Music.
In Into the Woods, though, you can pick almost any song and
find that it relates to the whole story; Agony, with everything
just out of reach, I Know Things Now, always learning but not
necessarily liking the truth, It Takes Two, where the Baker realises
that going it alone is not the best waythe list can go on.
The songs often dont end properly, but melt into one another, as
do the scenes, while the characters seemingly separate stories all
overlap with each other. There is a sense in Into the Woods that
everything is connected. The perfectly balanced narrative, with its
cleverly integrated score, starts brightly, albeit slightly sadistically,
and later mellows, darkens, and saddens. It is easy to see why
a show like this, with its themes of parenthood and friendship,
appealed someone of Sondheims turbulent upbringing; indeed,
it miraculous that a man coming from such a difficult childhood
can provide such insight into these areas of life.

John Warner, May 2014

Synopsis
Into the Woods takes a number of Brothers Grimm fairy tales,
weaves them together, and explores their frequently less-thanchildish undertones. The show starts with the Baker and his
wife, Little Red Ridinghood, Jack, and Cinderella all entering
the Woods to achieve what they wantor think they want. The
Witch constantly lurks behind the Baker and his Wife, urging
them on and bending them to her will, while regularly returning
to check on Rapunzel, locked high up in the tower with no door.
Little Red Riding Hood, on the other hand, strays from the path
and encounters the suave and rather hungry Wolf, whose true
intentions she is naively unaware of.
The Baker is questing to find four objects that, once obtained,
will lift the curse placed on him and his wife by the Witch; if
he succeeds, they will be granted a child. He buys the first
object from Jackthe cow Milky White, the boys only friend
in exchange for five magic beans; he obtains the second, the
red cloak, by coming to the aid of Little Red Riding Hood, and
his wife spots the third object, a golden slipper belonging to
Cinderella, who is finally attending the much dreamt-after ball.
Not long afterwards does she also notice that Rapunzels hair is
as yellow as cornthe fourth object.
Through a gruesome encounter with the Wolf in her
grandmothers house, Little Red Riding Hood finds courage,
as well as a large knife, and Cinderella weds a handsome
and charming prince, as does Rapunzel. Jack and his mother
become wealthy with the objects the boy steals from the top
of the magic beanstalk, and the Baker and his wife are released
from their curse when they present the Witch with all four
objects; she in turn undergoes a change of her own. All in all,
they live happily ever afterfor now.

The second act starts with all the characters happily enjoying
their new perfect livesall is well, everyone is happy. The
journey, however is not over, and through the increasingly
dark, twisted, and surprising events that ensue, the hearts of
these much loved and often told fairytales are brought to our
attention. What you wish may not be what you want, nice is
different than good, and, above all, be careful what you tell
your childrenchildren will listen. No one is alone.

Directors Note
When first suggested by friends to give Into the Woods a try, I was
hesitant: surely, the name Stephen Sondheim is tightly bound to
his famous works including Sweeney Todd, but Into the Woods
sounds like a crazy story associated with some fairytales. And
indeed, as I now find it, it is mad, leading to great challenges as
we decided on the production.
The plot is cleverly woven together as Lapine and Sondheim
put the different stories into one context. By assuming previous
knowledge in the audience, only key elements of each character
is shown in the separate stories: Jack, having descended from
the sky, expresses his adventure and thrill; Cinderella, after
multiple nights of festivities and balls, develops the idea to be
indecisive; and Little Red Riding Hood, having been swallowed
as a whole and revived when the wolf was slain, teaches herself
the moral lesson between nice and good. We therefore see the
characters develop on top of their original fairytale plots, and this
development sustains throughout the play.
Apart from development from the separate stories we also explore
characters that are often ignored - the princes from both Rapunzel
and Cinderella form an important crust of the plot. The Baker and
the Bakers Wife perform the role of linking all stories together,
alongside with the Witch: these three characters drive the play
and bring together the different stories. Another character worth
mentioning is the Mysterious Man, who has a Feste/Prophet like
existence throughout the play, but as the plot develops also gets
dragged into the story.
As we can see, one thing very peculiar about the musical is a
lack of chorus: major or minor, each character displays a special
identity within the play, where some of them undergo a big
development. This aspect means that the musical is very much

less clearly structured, and has a high fluidity between musical


numbers. Although this may mean that it is hard to isolate certain
scenes to rehearse (which was proven the case throughout the
whole process), the fast movement allows the audience to feel
the interconnectivity between the story, and more and more like a
story on its own.
Due to the character development, as we enter Act II we begin
to see what Sondheim and Lapine are trying to say: what you
wish may not necessarily be what you want. They try to display
this morale by breaking down the story into its constituent parts.
Without giving too much away, the characters face different kinds
of challenges in Act II, which allows them to rethink about what
may seem to be happy ever after. Decision is an operative here,
as the plot also displays how the seemingly lack of decision in Act
I plays into chaos and sadness Act II.
Therefore, we ask ourselves: what are fairytales? What purposes do
they serve? While they have their own morale within, children may
confusingly blur the line between fantasy and reality. And when
that happens, it is easy to step into the wrong path, believing that
decisions will be made naturally.
Lastly, I urge you all to sit back and enjoy, as we see how the story
unfolds.

Wharton Chan, May 2014

Musical Numbers
Act I
Opening
Hello Little Girl
I Guess this is Goodbye
Maybe Theyre Magic
Our Little World
Bakers Reprise
I Know Things Now
A Very Nice Prince
First Midnight
Giants in the Sky
Agony
A Very Nice Prince (reprise)
It Takes Two
Second Midnight
Stay With Me
On the Steps of the Palace
Finale

Act II
Opening
Agony (reprise)
Witchs Lament
Any Moment
Moments in the Woods
Your Fault
Last Midnight
No More
No One is Alone
Finale

Cast
Anissa BerryThe Witch
Anissa is a first year biology student at St.
Peters College. Since playing the Virgin
Mary in her primary school Christmas
concert, she has played many roles
including ensemble parts in Calamity
Jane, Thoroughly Modern Millie and
Sweet Charity, along with larger roles such
as Sally Bowles in Cabaret. In playing the
Witch, she is carrying on a family legacy
as her eldest sister also played the Witch.
When shes not revelling in her witchy powers, Anissa enjoys
cooking, watching Disney movies and taking selfies with her cat
Roger.

Jessica BolandFlorinda
Jessie is new to Oxford, having just completed
a Masters in Physics at the University of Exeter.
She is now excited to be starting her first year
as a DPhil student in Physics at Jesus College
and is really enjoying the Oxford lifestyle.
This is her first production in Oxford, but
previous musicals include West Side Story
and Thoroughly Modern Millie, and more
recently she has been trying out the technical
side of things, designing and operating sound and lighting. She is
really looking forward to be treading the boards again with such a
wonderful cast and production team!

Sam BreenCinderellas Prince


Sammy is a First Year studying Pre-Clinical Medicine at Corpus
Christi College. This will be his ninth musical production (not all at

Oxford, needless to say) and second Sondheim


musical, the first being Sweeney Todd at his
former school, Wimbledon College. When
not rehearsing or poking at cadavers he can
be found in some of Oxfords more refined
establishments such as the Park End cheese
floor and Babylove (RIP).

Christopher BreezeJack
Christopher is a First Year at University
College where he is studying Music.
As a singer and organist, he enjoys
working with choral ensembles of every
variety, singing with Schola Cantorum
of Oxford, performing Acapella at the
Edinburgh FestivalFringe for the second
year running thisSummer and singing
with,accompanying and conducting his
College Chapel Choir in his role as Organ
Scholar. Spending his childhood holidays living with relatives in
NYC a few blocks shy of Broadway, he has always enjoyed musical
theatre, taking on the roles of Enjolrasand Nicely-Nicely Johnson
in productions ofLes Misrables and Guys n Dolls respectively.
He has greatly enjoyed working with all the members of the cast
and crew for Into the Woods, finding a natural affinity with his fourlegged co-star, Milky White: he feels that the hands-on experience
he has gained from their friendship will serve as invaluable
preparation for his future career as a pet behaviour psychologist.

Mariella BrownLittle Red Riding Hood


Ella is a cute blonde from what is officially
the happiest college in Oxford, Somerville,
where many flowers grow. She has much
(theatrical) experience; having taken on a
number of roles including Scaramouche in
We Will Rock You, Rachel in Glee and Blousy

in Bugsy Malone, as well as occasionally performing in the West


End for charity. She is so pleased that the audience will get to hear
her beautiful voice and witness her tremendous acting skills.

Clementine CollettBakers Wife


Clemi is a First Year studying Theology
at Mansfield College. She attended
Stagecoach Theatre Arts School from the
age of 6, and with them has appeared most
recently as Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot and
Penny in Hairspray. Clemi has performed
with the Welsh National Opera tours of
Tosca and Madame Butterfly, and received
the Best Supporting Actress award as
Anne in Oxford Cuppers production Slag.
As a big fan of Sondheim, she is really
excited be part of Into the Woods.

Abi FinchCinderellas Mother


Abi is currently a Second Year studying
Psychology and Philosophy at Pembroke
College. During her time here so far she
has played a hot box girl in Pembroke
Colleges production of Guys n Dolls,
and Cherubino in Heartstrings Opera Co.s
production of The Marriage of Figaro.
Abi has always had a love of dancing
and singing, which she has been doing
for many years. Her more recent hobbies
include rowing, and flying trapeze.

Zoe FordCinderellas Stepmother


Zoe is a Second Year at Pembroke studying Biochemistry. She
participated in Pembrokes production of Guys n Dolls in Trinity
2013, and was an active member of the drama community in

her secondary school. In her spare time she


sings in Pembroke College Chapel Choir,
works with OUSUs Environment and Ethics
campaign, and she is also a beater for the
Radcliffe Chimeras, the Oxford First team for
quidditch.

Christian GilbertiNarrator/Mysterious Man


Christian is a visiting student from UPenn.
He was born into a family of impoverished
yet discerning ocelots in the Alaskan
wilderness in 1975. You may have noticed
him walking around campus carrying
carcasses in his mouth and leaving them as
gifts for the porters to clean up. He takes
after his mother in that he has rounded ears
and relatively large front paws. Please dont
rub his fur the wrong way.

Megan HarveyJacks Mother


Megan first performed in The Lion the
Witch and the Wardrobe as a beautiful
interpretation of a tree, in green spandex.
Since that moment, she has never forgotten
her passion for all things leafy, and is now
studying Biology at New College. A keen
tree hugger, Megan loves to frolic in the
South Downs fields (and woods), stealing
the souls of unknowing walkers and
generally avoiding contact with sunlight.
When not frolicking, Megan resigns herself
to a lonely existence watching Disney and
cat videos with Anissa Berry and her split
personality disorder.

Ross KingRapunzels Prince


Ross grew up in the south
of France and subsequently
moved to the UK to complete
his A-Levels. His first acting role
was to play Figaro aged 14, or at
least it would have been, had he
not been demoted to stagehand
after failing to learn his lines.
After directing Pembrokes
Cuppers entry in MT, this production marks his second foray
into drama at Oxford as both the Assistant Director and Prince
Charmings little brother.

Julianna KoSleeping Beauty


Julianna is a Visiting Student studying English and French at
Pembroke. Her favourite things include biscuits, clicky (ink) pens,
sunny weather, and the smell of old books. Since Julianna only sings
and hums recreationally (in elevators, corridors,
and bathrooms), she has just been in one other
musical, as hippy #7 in a middle school production
of Groovy. Of course, she is very excited to play
Sleeping Beauty in Into the Woods, and looks
forward to showcasing her previous singing/
humming/hippy/sleeping experience.

John MaidenSteward
John heralds from the midland realm of
Nottingham. He studies the part-time degree
that is History at St. Johns College, applying
to the college not because of its immense
riches and numerous quadrangles but simply
because its name happened to match his own.
John recently attracted the attention of the

Cherwell newspaper for the performance of his excitable eyebrows


in the musical Chess. Rumour has it that he is performing in Into The
Woods mainly to work on his new found love affair with eye make up?

Betty MakharinskyRapunzel
Betty is a Second Year Music student at
Exeter College. Previous productions at
Oxford include Susanna in The Marriage
of Figaro (Hilary 2014, Heartstrings Opera
Co.) and Amahl in Menottis Amahl and the
Night Visitors (Michaelmas 2012, Lincoln).
She was also president of Turl Street Arts
Festival 2014, sings with Exeter College
Chapel Choir and plays football fairly badly
(but with loads of enthusiasm).

Chesney OvsiowitzWolf
Chesney Ovsiowitz studies English
and French at Pembroke. Ruined
by his controversial beginnings as
a cross-dressing Alice in his Year 6
adaptation of Alice in Wonderland,
he now struggles daily with the
comedic supporting role typecast,
perpetuated so painfully by the title
of Best Supporting Actor in Drama
Cuppers. He hopes that Into the
Woods will be a springboard for him to become the best Best
Supporting Actor ever, finally allowing him to come to terms with
his destiny. #BSA.

Tommy SimanBaker
Tommy is a First Year undergraduate reading
French at Keble College. Previous theatrical roles
include Perelli in Sweeney Todd while at school,
and Into the Woods is his third production at
Oxfordalso his first musical with the University.
He has performed in Tartuffe and The History Boys
earlier on this year.

Evie TarrLittle Red Riding Hoods Grandmother


Evie is a First Year English student
best known for her debut role as the
title roles cat in Dick Whittington
and his Cat. One critic was quoted
saying that they should rename
the play The Cat and her Dick
WhittingtonTarr is sure to be
nominated for this one. Past roles
include a monster, a Scandinavian
feminist, a UFO, a pigthe list goes
on.

Olivia WarringCinderella
Olivia hails from the exotic land of
New Jersey, home to the worlds
largest collection of spoons and
some truly exquisite tomatoes. She
is currentlya computer science postgradresearching quantum algorithms,
and she owns pieces of paper that
seem to suggest she knows some
stuff about chemistry, Chinese, and
linguistics. Having indulged in a bit of
al fresco Shakespeare last Trinity term,

Olivia is thrilled to be making her Oxford musical theater debut; she is


particularly excited to be appearing as Cinderella, who subscribes to
the exact same decision-making philosophy as Olivia, namely, not to
decide. When shes not playing characters in the throes of existential
crises or having one of her own, Olivia enjoys dabbling in languages
with interesting orthographies, singing motets and madrigals with
vOx Chamber Choir, playing violin for the Gilbert and Sullivan Society,
programming in Haskell, knitting rectangular things, and exploring
the myriad uses of aubergines.

Grace WaterhouseLucinda
Grace is a Pembrokian, reading Law in her first
year. She lives, and has always lived, in Bude, a
little seaside town in Cornwall, and previously
studied the IB in Truro. This year shes been
heavily involved in the Pembroke Choir, and is
in the process of organising their upcoming tour
to Slovenia. Grace has loved being part of Into
the Woods; previous roles have included Serena
in Fame, Susan in The Lion, the Witch and the
Wardrobe and Oliver, in, well, Oliver!. Oh, and her
favourite pub would have to be the Chequers!

Production Team
Producer: Anthony Boyle
Assistant Producer: Emma Lipczynski
Director: Wharton Chan
Assistant Director: Ross King
Musical Director: John Warner
Marketing Director: Mel Kamalvand
Set Designer: Holly Muir
Lighting Designers: Jessica Boland, Matt Holmes
Sound Designer: Nicholas Maurer
Costume Designer: Rose Azad Khan
Stage: Natan Bram, Ellen Murray
Rptiteurs: Dorothy Tang, Kathy Chalmers
Make-up: Sama Al-Sharifi
Graphic Design: John Ng

Band
Flute: Cyan Koay
Clarinet: Rusheb Shah
Bassoon: Charlotte Wyatt
Horns: Kathy Chalmers, Jenny Gibbs
Trumpet: Matthew Everett
Piano: Dorothy Tang
Synthesizer: Stephen Ward
Percussion: Isabel Williams
Violins: Theophilius Kwek, Huw Jones
Violas: Rachel Maxey, Rachel Miller
Cello: Ellie Winter
Bass: Hugh Christie

Cast in order of appearance


Narrator/Mysterious Man: Christian Gilberti
Cinderella: Olivia Waring
Jack: Christopher Breeze
Baker: Tommy Siman
Bakers Wife: Clementine Collett
Cinderellas Stepmother: Zoe Ford
Florinda: Grace Waterhouse
Lucinda: Jessica Boland
Jacks Mother: Megan Harvey
Little Red Riding Hood: Mariella Brown
Witch: Anissa Berry
Cinderellas Father/Wolf: Chesney Ovsiowitz
Cinderellas Mother/Snow White: Abi Finch
Rapunzel: Betty Makharinsky
Rapunzels Prince: Ross King
Grandmother: Evie Tarr
Cinderellas Prince: Sam Breen
Steward: John Maiden
Giant: Dorothy Tang
Sleeping Beauty: Julianna Ko