ST. ALBANS — This November, Bellows Free Academy’s theater program will produce “Into the Woods,” directed by drama teacher Susan Palmer.
Students are getting involved in all aspects of the play — from acting to lighting, costumes, set design and more.
A musical by Stephen Sondheim, “Into the Woods” is a mashup of well-known fairy tales. Each character heads out into the woods in search of something different, carrying with them their own wants and wishes and ways to change or better their lives.
“Into the Woods’” lead roles include the baker, played by Pilot DesLauriers (‘22), the baker’s wife, played by Emily Parent (‘22), the witch, played by Bug Galuszka (‘23), Little Red Riding Hood, played by Madison Gagner (‘23), Cinderella, played by Lindsay Bernard (‘22), Jack, played by Elio Haag (‘23) and Jack’s mom, played by Emily Farrell (‘23).
Palmer chose “Into the Woods” because she feels it shows that even though there is darkness, there is hope as well.
“It ultimately shows people coming together, and being resilient and finding a way through the woods,” she said.
Palmer also has a history with directing and acting in this play. She said she once played the witch and enjoyed her experience.
Being the director of a musical during the COVID-19 pandemic comes with its own set of challenges, including student absences due to quarantine requirements. Palmer has had to change her typically strict rules on this matter.
In addition, after a conversation with principal Brett Blanchard, it's been determined that actors and audiences will be expected to wear masks during the performance.
When choosing who to cast for different roles, in musicals in particular, Palmer said one of the most important factors she considers is whether or not the actors can hit the notes for their part. She also seeks actors who are responsible and reliable.
Gagner, who will play Little Red Riding Hood, originally tried out for the prince. This is the first female role that Gagner has been cast as and her first major role in a high school play. She said that though the play is difficult, she is excited and believes the team can pull it together.
“It’s a really, really welcoming environment,” she said.
Haag, who is playing Jack (from “Jack and The Beanstalk”), said it’s a larger role than previous roles they have played.
During auditions, they were nervous, they said, because there were a lot of people auditioning for the role of Jack. Haag was worried they wouldn’t be good enough, but they feel honored to have this role and excited to bring this character to life.
They are looking forward to opening night and interacting with the audience for the first time.
“The first time the audience laughs is the most magical moment I’ve ever experienced,” Haag said. “When you hear the audience laugh, it’s like I did that, I invoked an emotion, I made them feel that way.”