INTO THE WOODS, JR. The fall 2018 Middle School musical was a wild, sprint-to-the-finish collaboration between the drama, dance, art, and music teaching teams, which culminated in several jaw-dropping performances in November. More than 40 middle schoolers participated in Into the Woods, Jr., affording the opportunity for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders with diverse interests to collaborate and put on a show together. Something far more magical (even than magic beans) was in store for audiences of the GDS production than Stephen Sondheim imagined when he wrote Into the Woods. Because of the large interest in participating expressed by students, teachers Brooke Houghton, Keith Hudspeth, and Felipe Moltedo created doubled roles in which students collaborated to portray a single character.
Mia Chévere ‘23 and Emery Jackson ‘23 with their set piece “Milky White.”
Full company at curtain call.
Students Naomi Borek ’25 and Sophia Moen ’25, for instance, were attached at the hip in their cow costume. “It’s challenging because we have to make sure we are both attached, but it’s also more fun,” Naomi said. They portray Milky White the Cow and collaborate even while being pulled in two different directions. The role of the double Jacks (of the beanstalk variety) was played by Shanwai Lin ‘25 and Avram Shapiro ’24 who portrayed it as brothers. “It’s a new thing we added to the show,” explained Avram. “Jack is a sillier character, which makes for an interesting dynamic when played by two people. We think about the part a bit differently when we have to interact with the other. We have to use not only dialogue specifically for that, but also our tone and gestures. It’s both a cooperative relationship and a competitive one as we figure out how to share lines. Splitting the part into two makes it more challenging and also more fun. It’s fun having a person to interact with as a foil, and I’m sure it was a lot of fun to watch.” From an educational standpoint, the doubled roles created opportunities for drama teacher Brooke to speak explicitly about choices they are making as actors. “It’s not only more dynamic than it could have been with just one actor, but their collaboration helped build a strong sense of character in the story. These two actors worked across grade levels—two actors who did not know each other before. We allowed them each to explore how they interpret the role and then helped them understand both where they are different as actors and also where their objectives line up.” Vocally, Shanwai and Avram harmonized the musical number, a challenging duet in itself. From the amazing sets supported by art teacher Susan Mols, which included movable trees and beautiful set pieces, to the lights crew emphasizing important dialogue through light color and direction; from the actors who spent hours discussing their intentions and motivations to the choreography supported by Felipe, this year’s MS production showcased breakout moments of growth as rapid as if some magic acting beans were planted.
Naomi Borek ‘25 and Sofia Moen ‘25 double as “Milky White.”
Props crew member Caroline Gann ‘25 with her golden egg-laying papier-mâche hen.
Liam Zeilinger ‘23, Lauren Petrilla ‘23, and Edie Carey ‘23 pose by their incredible beanstalk set piece.
In delightful company with the cast of the Middle School fall musical Into The Woods Jr. PHOTOS: MICHAEL DESAUTELS