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Davis, California

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Local school to tackle most musically-complicated show to date

On Nov. 7, Davis Senior High School (DSHS) will debut its fall musical, Into the Woods. According to Gwyneth Bruch, director of drama, this will be the school’s most musically complicated show yet.

Into the Woods is based on the book of the same title by James Lapine. It was adapted into a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and premiered on Broadway in 1987. The musical intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales in a single tale following the journey of a childless baker and his wife, and their quest to begin a family.

Devon Hayakawa, a senior who will be playing The Witch, praises the show for further developing beloved fairy tale characters.

“Every character is really unique and [is] based off a fairy tale character, with the exception of [the] baker and baker’s wife, so it’s really cool developing that character and making them have full depth instead of caricatures,” Hayakawa said.

The show’s musical complexity made for the school’s most rigorous audition process to date. According to Bruch, this was the first time in her 23 years of directing that she was unable to entirely cast the show from the initial auditions. After a consultation with her music director, Bruch made the decision to recruit students from Davis’ junior high schools in order to fill the supporting roles. Although the department has included junior high students before for in its performances, Into the Woods marks the most junior high students present in a single production at DSHS.

Although the high school adaptation follows closely with the original musical, Bruch states that her take on the show will feature more naturalistic performances rather than presentational or stylized performances as seen in the Broadway production. Bruch noted that her adaptation will feature more intimate character interactions, which will lead to a more honest portrayal of the show for the audience.

“The people who did this on Broadway, that works for them. I’m all about naturalism and honesty and that’s what I teach my acting students,” Bruch said. “[To me], theatre is [about] telling the truth in imaginary circumstances.”

Despite the show being a high school production, Bruch asserts that she holds her theatre to high level of professionalism she holds her theatre to. And although the set is designed entirely by a student, Bruch maintains that it is the most complex set the school has ever used. She holds her production against any other community theatre in the area.

“The most important thing for me when I took over the job is to have the community respect our work as art,” Bruch said. “We are not cute kids putting on a show. There’s a perception of high school theaters: [that] we’ll have cardboard sets and they’ll just be as cute as a bug’s ear. That’s not what I’m about.”

As an alumna of UC Davis who met her husband doing community theatre, Bruch encourages UC Davis students to attend the show. She notes her student discount applies to undergraduate and graduate students as well.

Sarah Green, a high school fourth year who will be playing the baker’s wife, encourages the community to attend the show for the moral message.

“I think that no matter if you’re interested in theatre or not, it takes you on a journey through the beloved fairy tales we’ve always learned as children,” Green said. “I think it teaches such a good lesson and I’m not going to spoil that lesson because people learn that at the end of the show.”

Into the Woods will be shown at DSHS’ IPAB Theatre on Nov. 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the box office for $16 general admission, $12 senior citizens (65+) and $10 students with a valid ID.

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