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Workshop brings fairy tales to the Columbia stage

Zachary Araki, A&E Editor

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With 23 acting roles, 71 musical numbers and 29 actors, the Opera/Music Theatre Workshop will bring magic and fairy tales to the stage for the performance of “Into the Woods.”

The Opera/Music Theatre Workshop will present this semester’s work at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts on Sept. 27-28 at 7:30 p.m.

“People are gonna want to come to see how the live version compares to the movie version,” said Charles Effler, director of the Opera/Music Theatre Workshop. “People are generally not used to seeing that. Besides that, if they’re not familiar with it, Stephen Sondheim is a living legend on Broadway. He has changed the face of Broadway musicals starting in the ‘60s.”

“Into the Woods” brings together fairy tales like “Rapunzel,” “Cinderella,” “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Effler described the first act as “everybody getting what they wish for” and the second act as “be careful what you wish for.”

“Into the Woods” debuted in the late 1980s, and the Stephen Sondheim musical has been produced numerous times since, including a 2014 movie that won the Satellite Award for Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture. Now, Effler plans to bring the performance to Hammond.

“It’s a show that I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said Effler. “Even before the movie was made, I’ve wanted to do it, but I have to do shows that I can cast from students, so for whatever reason, I didn’t feel I could cast it adequately before this, but all the stars aligned.”

Effler discussed how the workshop’s performances have been received in the past.

“We’ve gone from incredibly received, sold-out houses at the Columbia Theatre for ‘Sweeney Todd’ four years ago to a little more normal reception of maybe six or 700 people see the show over two nights,” said Effler. “Sometimes I think it depends on the choice of the show. They may not be familiar with it, or they may not want to see that show. Other times, it depends on what people have on their schedules already.”

The workshop allows undergraduate students such as those who have never been on stage to gain experience in the field.

“That’s part of going to a smaller school like Southeastern with a smaller music department,” said Effler. “We can let our undergraduates take leads and supporting roles whereas in larger departments, they would get chorus and maybe a bit part, and the master’s and doctoral students would get the big, juicy parts.”

University students can gain admission for free with presentation of their student ID.

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