Middle School Heading “Into the Woods” This February

Stamping feet, a high energy warm-up is filling the stage and the air of Woodman one midwinter afternoon as a dozen middle schoolers shake off the school day and tackle preliminary work for Into The Woods, coming to stage at the end of February.

If you enter the Woodman Center after school, you’ll most likely find young performers and tech crew in their element. After finishing their warm up, led by performing arts teacher Steve Kidd and chorus teacher Justin Peters, students take their places ready to get to work.

 

 

“Props!” Steve shouts. The stage is blocked in tape markers, and a jungle-gym-esque set design is coming into formation. Students fill into their positions and experiment on how to perfect each scene. Students switch in and out, many have several parts in this large ensemble based show.

Steve says that the musical continues MB In Rep’s year-long theme of inheritance, “how we grapple with what we’ve been given and then make something positive out of that. We can expect transformation!”

Justin Peters will be working with students on the choral roles in the musical. He says that shows at the middle school level welcome all. “It’s supportive, but more serious than what you see at the lower school level.” Everyone in the production will play an active role and MB’s very active tech program is already busy at work, doing the leg work to put on the show. “That’s the beauty of our program,” Justin comments. “It’s not like a typical junior high production where a student sits in the wings until their role is called to the stage. Everyone here is busy.”  That’s good for the show and for the bonding of each show’s ensemble.

 

 

All Woodman productions include students in all the steps from concept to concrete ideas and execution. Backstage in the tech shop, the crew are busily pulling together the elements Christopher Hoyt, Woodman Production Manager, has sketched out, and the set rendering looks intriguing. Every good fairytale needs a bridge; a crew of students are busy stabilizing the bases for the tall pillars on either side of ours, with Bruce Shaw helping them build the components from the bottom up. “Is it wiggly?” With this kind of one-on-one direction, middle schoolers work with and learn from faculty, getting the needed scaffolding before they join the upper school theatre program.

 

“For middle school productions, we read the scripts and talk about the story together,” says Chris. “We then do a lot of comprehensive research about what we want to do visually and take all those ideas and make it into a rendering. For the upper school, the students are more involved in the process and create a 3D scaled-down model of the actual stage in Woodman.”

On the other side of the shop, a few students are researching special effects. This fairytale production will need its share of fairy dust to put the audience under its spell. They have the ability to use video projections on black screens to create effects such as twinkles, smoke, lightning bolts and all things magical for Into the Woods.

 

Performances of Into the Woods will be held February 24 and 25 at the Woodman Center.