Into West’s Woods: Drama Department performs its annual production


Ben Radspinner

From left to right, Caroline Hoover, Alice Efremov, Laurel Chiesa, Summer Neace, Jacob Cook (music director), Nevaeh Middleton, Renae Hubbard, Sydney Bean, William Bland and Victoria Lugo are filming for their final recordings of their production, “Into the Woods.” They are all excited to see their hard work during these difficult times pay off.

Meredith Watson, News Writer

The show must go on- and it will. After not being able to perform since the fall of the 2019-2020 school year, theater students and teacher, Renae Hubbard, assisted by chorus teacher Jacob Cook, are excited for their upcoming musical, “Into the Woo.” This production is allowing the producers to be creative and film in the woods behind the school. “Into the Woods” is a woven story where fairy tales come together, and there isn’t exactly a happily ever after. The musical is a modern twist on the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. The story follows the baker (Spencer Browning) and his wife (Julia Barton) through the woods, meeting different characters along the way such as Cinderella (Victoria Lugo-Fernandez), Rapunzel (Zoe Grace Ludolf), and the Wolf (Carissa Bryant) from “Little Red Riding Hood,” as they search for the ingredients to reverse her infertility curse .
“Just because we grow up hearing fairy tales doesn’t mean our life is going to be one,” Hubbard said.
The auditions took place at the end of January, casting 29 students. They have been meeting after school since then from 4:30 to 6:30, every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for rehearsals. Almost all of these meetings took place over Zoom, which allowed them to rehearse songs with Cook and Hubbard who discussed lines, characterization and plans for filming in the woods.
They started rehearsing in-person on March 30 after Hubbard scouted the campus to figure out where the best location was to film. They are using a handheld camera, which allows the audience to see more details since the production will be shown virtually on YouTube. One of their main challenges of filming and putting on the production is going to be having to get dressed and down to the woods, with all of their lines and songs memorized, and film in under two hours to be COVID friendly. Despite some new setbacks, actors are still excited that they are able to put on their production.
“I am nervous about the show turning out well. We have been dealing with technical issues and we have never filmed our shows like this, so I hope everything goes well,” Bryant said.
Despite this challenge, Hubbard is excited for what is to come from the play.
“I think I am most excited because it is so different and unique. On a personal level, I am just happy to be working with the kids again. Obviously, COVID brought down the arts a lot, and how much interaction we have had with students, so a lot of it is being able to work with the students again and bring back some normalcy,” Hubbard said.
Students are excited about their roles in the musical as they are finally able to reunite with fellow students. Victoria Lugo-Fernandez talks about what she is most excited for.
“I am most excited to see the outcome of this play since I had so much fun working on it with other amazing and talented students and teachers,” Fernandez said.
Julia Barton has taken the role of the Baker’s wife. She spoke on her role in the musical as a whole.
“Her husband’s bloodline has a curse on it by a witch that he cannot have children. The witch gives them a list of items to get so she can make a potion to reverse the curse. She is very independent and determined to hunt everything down, which makes the story entertaining as her desire to find everything leads them to other characters,” Barton said.
Spencer Browning plays the part of the Baker and is thrilled about the complexity of his role.
“The Baker is the person that the world is constantly revolving around. He is unable to have a child with his wife because of the spell put on his family by a witch. To appease his wife, he goes out on his own searching for the four items to create the potion. He wants to do everything alone, until he realizes he needs help, and his wife is just as important in the ordeal as he is,” Browning said.
To be COVID friendly, they are not only filming in the woods, but all production staff and cast members will be wearing masks at all times, and if any physical touch is required, the students will wear clear gloves for even more protection. Everyone will be staying six feet apart unless they are acting. These aren’t the only changes they are going to have to adjust to, but the cast members will have to come with their hair and makeup done, which skips the step of having people too close to their faces.
The production is set to be uploaded on Hubbard’s YouTube, the West Forsyth Home Page and the Drama Club page, sometime in mid to late May. While the production is free of charge, there is a link for donations as the Drama Department has been hit hard with COVID.