The beloved musical Into the Woods takes the stage starting Friday in Charleston, as the Charleston Light Opera Guild presents the classic.
We have several cast interviews to share, and stepping up to our imaginary microphone is Austin Thomas, who plays the part of a real troublemaker:
Q: Tell us the story behind Into the Woods.
Austin: Into the Woods is a show of several fairy tales and how their stories intertwine when they go "into the woods" to get their respective wishes. After the show goes on, we realize these people aren't just story book characters, they represent all of us and our values and our desire to get our wishes.
Q: Tell us about the character you play.
Austin: I'm playing Jack, originally from "Jack and the Beanstalk." I wanted this role because not only does Jack have an amazing song, "Giants in the Sky," but he represents youth and a sense of adventure. He represents growing up and how our values and priorities change as we mature. He learns to take responsibility for his actions, and I love the
journey his character takes.
Q: Why did you want to be in this musical?
Austin: I wanted to be in Into the Woods because it's not just a story about fairy tales. It is a poignantly written allegory about human nature, greed, selfishness, forgiveness, responsibility, consequences, courage, struggles, the families we're born into as well as the families we choose, and the things we leave behind for the next generation. And Stephen Sondheim who is arguably the greatest Broadway composer of all time has written a gorgeous score that brings the show to life.
Q: What is your background in theatre?
Austin: I started acting when I was five years old - that’s when I began taking acting lessons from Kelly Strom. From there, I attended the Charleston Stage Company's Summer Arts Camp from ages 5 to 17, where I took classes from actors including Adam Bryan, Dan Kehde, and Joe Wallace. I also took acting lessons from Dan Kehde in high school and have been performing with the Charleston Light Opera Guild, the Contemporary Youth Arts Company, and the Charleston Stage Company since I was 10 years old.
Q: What is your favorite song in the show?
Austin: My favorite song is probably "The Witch's Lament," because for a moment, we get to see that the big bad witch has a heart, we empathize with her. It makes us realize that even the people we fear or dislike have feelings, people they love, and their own stories.
Q: Is the music challenging?
Austin: At times, yes! As I said, Sondheim is arguably the greatest composer in Broadway history, and his music is incredibly complex. It is so exciting though when you finally learn it and get it right. It's a great sense of accomplishment.
Q: Tell us about the cast - there's a lot of talent on display here.
Austin: We really do have the cream of the crop in this cast from seasoned, extremely talented performers like Ryan Hardiman and Elizabeth Cary Lantz-Brown, to some of our younger cast members like Scott Jarrell, Rachel Scarpelli, Kristen Pennington, Brynna Horswell, Lauren Meyer, and Cameron Vance who have all played leading roles in the past few years. Everyone is focused and holds their own in this production.
Q: Why would you recommend this show to our readers?
Austin: Into the Woods is not only fun and entertaining, but it is emotionally challenging and deep. There is something for everyone in this show.
Into the Woods is presented by the Charleston Light Opera Guild on May 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. and May 10 at 3 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theatre at Civic Center Drive in Charleston, W.Va. Tickets are $25 for reserved seating. Tickets are available at charlestonlightoperaguild.org or call 304-343-2287.