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UMW's production of "Into the Woods" marks 100th anniversary of UMW theater
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In addition to UMW students from various academic and extracurricular concentrations-- including a physics major and a baseball player,--and faculty from the theater department, the cast and crew include an English professor, an education professor, an alumna and members of the Fredericksburg community.
"[The collaboration] mirrors the content of the show--people from different communities coming together to survive the problems," said Gary Richards, professor and chairman of the English Department, who portrays the Narrator.
Richards, although a great fan of musical theater and Sondheim in particular, had never been cast in a production before.
Stull approached Richards because he wanted to represent the Narrator as separate from the rest of the characters and thought having a faculty member in the role would set it apart.
Richards acknowledges some awkwardness in rehearsals, since he is in an authoritative role as professor, but many of the students have more experience in theater than he does.
Richards emphasized that this production is an educational experience for all involved and laughed off the "colossal mistakes" that the students have helped him work through.
"Into the Woods" hits home for Richards because it reminds him of the loss he experienced when he was forced to evacuate his home in New Orleans in 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina.
The soundtrack for this musical was in his car's CD player as he drove away from home.
Despite the tragic and emotional themes, the musical manages to stay funny and upbeat throughout the play.
"It's a brilliant piece that is very funny in a smart way," Richards said. "I hope [the audience] can appreciate the work that the cast and crew have done."
COMING OUT TO PLAY
Although the production is put together by many different members of the community, most of the cast are UMW students.
One is junior theater major Nick McGovern, playing Jack. It's his first role in a major production.
In addition to classes and rehearsals, McGovern also plays baseball.
"It's been tough," McGovern said about juggling play rehearsals and practice.
However, he said his coaches have been understanding about his schedule.
"I think you can always find time for things you're passionate about," McGovern said.
What: "Into the Woods" When: Through Nov. 18. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.; 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14. Where: Klein Theatre in duPont Hall at the University of Mary Washington. Cost: $24 general admission, $20 for senior citizens and students with any student ID. Info and tickets: 540/654-1111; umw.tix.com.