by Tirzah Walker, correspondent
Dr. Jori Jennings designed Moody’s production of Into the Woods to be an experience for Moody students going through the major transitions of this past academic year in preparation for the changes of the upcoming one. The dress rehearsal and four showings were filled up and sold out weeks before the performance.
The characters in Stephen Sondheim’s musical are at once familiar and unfamiliar, following more of the darker original stories of Cinderella, Little Red Riding-hood and Rapunzel.
The role of the Baker was played by Christopher Newby, junior music major.
“The biggest breakthrough in character development came for me when I found that acting on stage, I was confronting some of my own emotions, and some of my own insecurities” he said. “I suddenly did not feel better than the Baker. I came to understand that these struggles, to learn to be content in the love and purpose that Jesus Christ gives and the struggle to break certain cycles of specific generational sin are ones that I personally struggle with.”
Jonathan Burdick, senior theology major and a former president of Men’s Choir, played Rapunzel’s prince.
“Musical theater is something I’ve wanted to try for some time and this offered the opportunity for a newbie to learn, and was a project we could all be very proud of,” he said. “It also gave me the chance to spend time with friends and to make new friendships with people I had only briefly interacted with.”
One of the dilemmas the cast faced in the production was Sondheim’s secular morality in contrast to the training in biblical morality they have received at Moody. For example, Cinderella’s prince, who, always unsatisfied, goes out of his way to seek out new and more aloof conquests, is unrepentant when Cinderella discovers his infidelity.
All of the characters have deep flaws and, Burdick explained, keep on wishing for more. He said it can be challenging for a Christian to play a character who makes immoral choices.
“The question is, how can I do this in a way that glorifies God? I think part of that is seeing yourself, not as the whole story, but only a part of it,” he said. “Your character serves a purpose. This has been the most profound takeaway from the show for me: the resolution to the ‘problem of humanity’ as it is presented in the show only hits what the result looks like in this life. For us who are united to the Lord Jesus Christ, how much more compassionately should we be living? How much deeper is our communion with each other? And how much more ought we to live outward in the light and love of Jesus?”