Lights, Camera, Action: PN drama takes viewers Into the Woods

Cameron Myers, J1 Staff Member

This year, Portage Northern is presenting Into the Woods, a show about plot twist of your favorite fairy tales you heard when we were all younger. But making this a magical show needs a little help from behind the scenes. This traditional form of fairytales turns itself into a quest of a little family, who desperately wants to have a baby, but has to collect 4 items from famous stories we all heard from when we were all young. But, this fantastic production wasn’t only just built upon the cast, but also the crew, who were behind the scenes in moving props and setting the lighting just right. From the distraction from activities inside and outside of the stage, directing the entire musical to making it to almost perfection, and to knowing the difference from middle school musicals, to musicals in high school.

Behind the scenes of a play that involves mainly music and singing, requires a ton of time and practice, which can be very hard for Rosie Coryell, a 10th grader here at Portage Northern is the character of Cinderella. “Into the Woods is such a challenging show and everyone has to put in time after school to make it a success, but it was difficult to find time to work on the show outside of rehearsals.” Time consuming rehearsals sucks time and energy out of everyone, normally it leads to distant communication with friends and the lack of homework time. For an assistant stage director, Katie Fleming, also a 10th grader, says her complications within her everyday attendants to the rehearsals,”Well, since I had to be there at every rehearsal, I had some troubling finishing my homework or making time for other activities, but of course, I still showed.” Being in after school activities, such as the musical, can take away the determination of focusing in school, also the hard work and time being put into the musical everyday.

Teaching the choreography to the cast, with using props and the entire stage, also transitioning between each scene, and including cleaning and reviewing the finished product of the musical are conflicts for what the director, Celia Weeks, deals with everyday with after school rehearsals. “This musical wasn’t very dance heavy, but I would estimate that it took a full 2 hour rehearsal for each of the dance numbers and there are 5 in the show, so 10 hours to teach it and then we spend countless rehearsals reviewing and cleaning” With dealing with a 2 hour after school rehearsal in preparation for opening night, also with a time budget of 2 months of making the musical perfection. “We auditioned this show in early september, so we are looking at an 8 week process. I would have loved one more week simply because the set for this show was so massive – we could have benefited from more time just practicing how to transition from scene to scene.” A musical as big as Into the Woods, leads to so many rehearsals with the movement of props for each character, to practicing non-stop.

To conclude with this tour of behind the scenes of Into the Woods, is the experience of going through musical to musical, for example, Cole Curtiss, the lead role, which is the baker, says his journey from being a freshman here at Portage Northern for being his first musical in high school, to the last says,“So personally, it’s been indescribable, but even more so is the whole experience within the department. I’m so thankful for it, because it helped me find “my people”, and created an outlet I could always depend on. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and I know it will always be a very influential part of not only my high school career, but my life, I’m sure.” Everyone knows that there is a huge difference between high school to middle school, but jumping back 4 years, Jordan Bruner, the character of Rapunzel’s Prince. He is currently a freshman, also for being his first musical in high school, he exclaims that the musical  is way different than middle school,“I think one of the major differences for me is the amount of time it takes for the show to be finished, by that I mean in middle school, the show spanned from late november, early december to mid march, and at the high school, it’s from the first week of school to early november. All together, though the high school show is better experience, since i’ve been able to bond much more with the high school then i did at the middle school.”

“Entertaining, Powerful, and Enthralling performance that was!” According to Grace Novak, a 10th grader in Portage Northern, described the entire musical within 3 words, in which, all the 3 words were positive. “I think it’s amazing how those kids can pull together a phenomenal performance in just a few months. Within the entire musical, my favorite part was the emotion and the humor, which those theater kids never fail to impress me.” Pulling off the entire musical just in 8 weeks is a tough deadline for all the cast and crew to complete, with little time to complete homework, and also for being there first time on a high school stage are big concerns. At least they had the entire crowd stood to their feet and cheer for the phenomenal performance, including mine.