Into the Woods

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by James Lapine

Directed by David Ronis

Be careful what you wish for!

Freudian psychology meets musical theater in Sondheim’s Into the Woods

University Theatre and University Opera combine forces to present Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods at the Wisconsin Union Theater

Cinderella wants to go to the ball; Jack wants to climb the beanstalk; Little Red Riding Hood wants to take some goodies to her grandmother; Rapunzel is stuck in a tower. Add to these popular fairy tales one more about a baker, his wife, and the witch next door, weave them all together, and you have the ingenious mashup otherwise known as Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods.

From February 21st through 24th, University Theatre and University Opera, in partnership with the Wisconsin Union Theater, will co-present a special production of Into the Woods at Shannon Hall. This marks the first time in over 12 years that the UW-Madison School of Music and the Department of Theatre and Drama have collaborated on a production. Directed by Karen K. Bishop Director of Opera, David Ronis, and conducted by UW-Madison Director of Orchestras, Chad Hutchinson, the production will feature 20 singer-actors on stage, supported by over 70 instrumentalists, stage crew, and theater artisans from the School of Music, Department of Theatre and Drama, Department of Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies, and from the campus-at-large, accompanied by the UW-Madison Symphony Orchestra.

The timing of this presentation, two weeks after Madison Opera’s production of Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, could not be better for all lovers of musical theater and particularly the work of Stephen Sondheim. The opportunity to see fully-realized, productions of two of Sondheim’s major works in such a short time will certainly make February 2019 “Sondheim Month” in Madison.

In this story of interconnected fairy tales, familiar characters venture into the woods to fulfill their deepest wishes. Half way through, it appears that all are succeeding and will live “happily ever after.” That is, until the real consequences of the characters’ actions come back to haunt them – and they do with a vengeance. Ultimately, each finds resolution and comfort in community, but only after sacrifices are made and difficult lessons are learned.

Into the Woods is chock full of memorable, urbane, often funny, beautiful songs – indeed many of Sondheim’s best – including Cinderella’s “On the Steps of the Palace,” Jack’s “Giant’s in the Sky,” the ironic duet, “Agony,” sung by the two Princes, the Witch’s heartfelt “Stay With Me,” and finally, the show’s moving anthem “No One is Alone.”

UW-Madison’s elaborate production will feature the work of two student designers. M.F.A. scenic design student John Drescher will contribute an imaginative set that incorporates projections (assisted by Ariana White, Jake Prine, and Emma Bruland) and involves many moving parts! Senior Ethan White will create the aural soundscape of the show, serving as sound designer and assisted by Isabel Coff, sound engineer. They will be joined by professionals: costume designer Ashley Bellet, lighting designer Kenneth Ferencek, and props designer Lydia Berggruen. Completing the production team will be production stage manager Jahana Azodi, technical director Greg Silver, scene shop head Rob Wagner, assistant directors Benjamin Hopkins and Thomas Kasdorf, and assistant stage managers Molly Jean Frisch and Dylan Thoren. Providing additional production support will be scenic charge Emily Rudolf, lighting board operator Hope Robiolio, and master electrician Alice Combs.

The majority of performers on stage will be undergraduate students. Miranda Kettlewell and Elisheva Pront will split performances as Cinderella; Zoe Bockhorst and Meghan Stecker will share performances of Little Red Riding Hood; Talia Engstrom and Emily Vandenberg will both perform the role of the Baker’s Wife; Bryanna Plaisir will take the role of the Witch; Michael Kelley will be the Baker; and Christian Brenny will perform the role of Jack. The Princes will be Benjamin Galvin (Cinderella’s Prince) and Tanner Zocher (Rapunzel’s Prince) and the Wolf/Steward will be played by Cobi Tappa. Cinderella’s adopted family will be portrayed by Faith Fuller (Stepmother), Josie Brandmeier (Florinda), Shasparay Lighteard (Lucinda) and Zach Wolff (Cinderella’s Father). The triple assignment of Cinderella’s Mother, Granny, and the Giant will be fulfilled by Angela Peterson. Master’s student Kelsey Wang will be Rapunzel. Doctoral candidates Quanda Johnson and Joshua Kelly will play the roles of Jack’s Mother and the Narrator/Mysterious Man respectively. Besides Maestro Hutchinson, the musical team will consist of UW-Madison vocal coach Dr. Daniel Fung, doctoral candidate Thomas Kasdorf (musical preparation), and Wade Troyer (rehearsal pianist). In addition, doctoral student Michael Dolan will serve as assistant conductor and conduct one performance.

University Opera is a cultural service of the Mead Witter School of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison whose mission is to provide comprehensive operatic training and performance opportunities for our students and operatic programming to the community. For more information, please contact Or visit the School of Music's web site at
University Theatre is the production arm of the Department of Theatre and Drama at UW-Madison. Theatre production work serves as the practical laboratory for students to apply their curricular training while offering exciting and thoughtful programming for the UW campus and the Madison community. For more information, visit the department web site or contact

Produced by University Theatre (UW-Madison) and University Opera in Shannon Hall at the U.W. Wisconsin Union Theater, Memorial Union, 800 Langdon Street, Madison

Performances: February 21-24, 2019

Performance Times:
Thursday February 21 7:30 PM
Friday February 22 7:30 PM
Saturday February 23 2:00 PM
Saturday February 23 7:30 PM
Sunday February 24 2:00 PM

Ticket Prices: Premium Seating: $40 Adult: $32 Seniors (62+): $25 Children (K-12th grade): $15 UW Faculty/Staff: $25 UW Students: $10

For tickets, contact Campus Arts Ticketing – phone: 608-265-2787, online:

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