A Video Interview

April 28, 2016

Sam Rosenblum ’16 and Jayson Paul ’16, along with visiting director A. Scott Parry, sat down with President Biddy Martin to discuss their inspiration, purpose and hopes for staging "Into The Woods" at Amherst College. Watch more video interviews.

In the decades since its 1987 Broadway debut, Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods has been performed in venues around the world. At Amherst, students are about to present it both as entertainment and to explore timely questions of community. As Jayson Paul ’16, one of the organizers, observed, musicals “are about enjoyment and pleasure on the one hand, but also about serious themes and deep ideas.”

In that spirit, Paul and his fellow students decided it was time for the tradition of student musicals to return to Amherst after a five-year hiatus, and to start with something special. Amherst students organized a College musical from 2004 to 2011. Mark Swanson, director of instrumental music at Amherst, produced and music directed each of themA. Scott Parry, director of opera and lyric theater at Ohio State University and director of the 20042011 shows, has returned to direct Into the Woods.

Into the Woods intertwines fairytale characters from the Brothers Grimm, such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Jack (of the Beanstalk). For Paul, its emphasis on the communities that the characters form inside the forest brought Amherst to mind. The show’s many story lines intersect, clash and merge “to produce a new, unified story,” he says: “The fact that a story could coalesce with all these disparate characters into a single storyline, I felt, mirrored in a lot of ways what Amherst is all about."


Into the Woods

“Into the Woods,” May 4–7

See Into the Woods on May 47, at 8 p.m. at Amherst's Orr Rink (300 S Pleasant St). Tickets are free for Five College students, faculty and staff, $10 for general public, $5 for seniors and children.

Twenty-five students and community members form the cast, almost all playing more than one role across the four nights of the show. Swanson directs an additional 22 students and community performers in the live orchestra, which will accompany each performance in Amherst's Orr Rink.

“This musical is being organized as a grassroots community event,” Paul says. “To have it staged in Athletics allows a department not traditionally involved in theater to be a part of the process, and that’s awesome.”

The Amherst production runs May 4–7. Tickets are free to Five College students, faculty and staff with valid ID. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and children under 18. Reservations are strongly recommended, and can be made by filling out this form.

Discussions of the musical have begun even before the first performance. On April 20, the Center for Humanistic Inquiry hosted an academic symposium about the show with faculty and guest commentators that covered such topics as the humanity of giants, the relentlessness of wishes and the construction of family. All topics that promise to come to life anew next week.