For the first time at Wisconsin Union Theatre, the Department of Theatre and Drama and University Opera are coming together to present the musical “Into the Woods” by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine.
The production will be directed by David Ronis, Karen K. Bishop Director of University Opera who has worked with more than 30 companies, starring in more than 50 operatic roles.
If you can recall all of the hype around this modern fantasy film from 2014, the excitement among the musical theater community at UW is unparalleled.
Premiering Feb. 21-24, 2019, there will be four performances at Shannon Hall in Memorial Union all through the weekend. Auditions are being held in Room 1090 of Vilas Hall on Friday, Sept. 21 from 4-9 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 22 from 12-4 p.m.
Students are expected to prepare 32 bars of a legitimate musical theater song, along with sheet music in the appropriate key. Since no auditions can be acapella, The School of Music is providing an accompanist. Resumes are suggested, but not required.
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Those interested in becoming involved in the production retain various skill sets and levels of experience. If you’re feeling nervous or hesitant about auditioning, there’s no need! Students Bryanna Plaisir and Ollie Selman have a few words of advice.
Plaisir, a sophomore studying theater and mathematics has always had a love for theater, specifically musical theater. She knew a classic like “Into the Woods” would be a great show to audition for. Plaisir has been heavily involved with the University Theatre, currently in the production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” but having a chance to do a production involving the School of Music sparked her interest even further.
“It’s my first show with the university and it has been such a fun experience getting involved and being able to share the show with the Madison community,” Plaisir said.
Sellman, a junior pursuing a B.S. in Music and Biochemistry is a member of the School of Music, though she has never been a part of the University Theater or Opera before. Her past theater involvement has extended to a number of community and professional productions such as “H.M.S. Pinafore,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Little Miss Sunshine.”
“The first and most important step is to listen to get to know the show. Read up on it, learn the plot and listen to the music. Make sure it is actually a production that you’d enjoy being a part of,” Sellman suggested. “Next, find your audition song. A great choice would be anything by the same composer (Sondheim in this case)! If you’re having trouble choosing one, ask your friends. They’ll be able to help you find what’s best for your voice.”
Sellman also suggested figuring out which character you want to play. Characters like Cinderella and Rapunzel have higher, soprano-style voices, while Little Red is a belter and the Baker a baritone. If you want to play the Witch, find a song that will show how amazing you’d be as her.
Sign-ups for auditions opened on Sept. 5 and can be found on the theatre website.
Remember, it’s not all about how you do in the end, but what you learn from the process along the way. Whether you are cast in the production or not, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in the music scene on campus.
“Don’t get too caught up in the stress of the audition,” Sellman said. “Musical Theatre is a community experience. Everyone else in the cast will be supportive, whether it’s your first show or your 21st. Just enjoy yourself.”