PEMCo performs “Into the Woods”
Catherine Owers | Thursday, November 6, 2014
Pasquerilla East Music Company’s (PEMCo) production of “Into the Woods” will begin performances Thursday night on Washington Hall’s main stage.
Actor Chris Siemann said the musical’s plot is a “mash-up” of fairy tales.
“It’s Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel all thrown into the same story,” Siemann said.
Auditions for the cast were held at the beginning of the semester and rehearsals began in September, for several nights a week, Siemann said.
“On average, for each of us, it was maybe one to three hours a night,” he said. “Some nights I wasn’t even called, but other nights I was there for four hours.”
Siemann said he plays the role of the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood, as well as Cinderella’s prince.
“The parts were meant to be double cast, for symbolic reasons,” he said. “The wolf interacts with Little Red Riding Hood, and that story plays out the way you think it would. Then I have to kind of quick change into the Cinderella’s Prince — without spoiling too much, he’s exactly who you think he’s going to be. The characters are similar; they have a very similar mindset of instinct, and getting what [they] want.”
“Into the Woods” is a unique show because it has a large cast but no chorus, Siemann said.
“There are seventeen people and they’re all unique characters, and we all have our own moment, so to speak, on the stage,” Siemann said. “It’s really cool that we get to develop these characters. When you’re in a chorus, you can still develop your character, but you don’t have as much to work with. So it’s really cool that we’re all on even playing ground.”
The production is entirely student-run, which creates a unique experience for all the members of PEMCo, he said.
“Everyone understands everyone else’s commitments, we’re all doing school, we all have other things that we’re involved in,” he said. “It makes you feel really proud of something, that we’re working as one unit.”
Producer and senior Emma Kusters said she began preparations for the production last semester, along with fellow producer and senior Shannon Kirk.
“We started last spring, when we reviewed director applications and selected a director for the show, and we picked what show we were going to do,” Kusters said. “Over the summer we were e-mailing, designing set and costumes, and then we had auditions the second week of school.
“A large part of my time this summer was revamping the PEMCo website,” Kusters said. “I’ve really been trying to make the information about PEMCo more accessible, so that we can reach students who aren’t already in the PEMCo fold, so we can be pulling in new talent, so that everyone feels welcome to participate and audition in whatever capacity they can.”
Kusters said the producers considered several factors in choosing PEMCo’s fall show.
“Part of the consideration is always budget,” Kusters said. “We took a pretty big risk this year because usually our fall show is a smaller-scale show. Last year there were only four actors in the show, and the year before that there were seven.
“This year we have a seventeen-person cast, and we actually ended up spending even more money on this show than we did on ‘Legally Blonde’ last year, which was our big show last year,” she said.
The producers also looked for a show that would appeal to the student body, Kusters said.
“Into the Woods’ is all these fairy tales coming together in a sort of fantastical way, in a way that’s also very relevant to the human experience and everyone here,” she said.
Kusters said the show has a variety of stunts and visual effects, as well as an elaborate set.
“Everyone in the cast has to pitch in to make the set; it was a really a group effort,” she said. “I think this is the best set PEMCo has had in a while.”
“Into the Woods” premieres Thursday, November 6th at 7:30 p.m., in Washington Hall. Performances also running November 7th at 7:30 p.m., and November 8th at 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $7 for students and $10 for non-students.