‘Into the Woods’ Brittany Martz, Jacob Lash, Kate Merryman, and Miranda Carver at George Mason University

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Journey into the woods as we meet four cast members – Brittany Martz, Kate Merryman, Jacob Lash, and Miranda Carver – of George Mason University’s production of Into the Woods, playing this weekend at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts.

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Brittany Martz

My name is Brittany Martz. I am 21 and I grew up in Fairfax Station, VA. I am a senior.

What productions and roles have you played at George Mason University and elsewhere?

At George Mason University:
The Life of Galileo – Virginia
Equus – Jill Mason

Elsewhere:
The Goddess Diaries – Emily – 2012 Captial Fringe Festival
The Morphine Diaries – Friend (Supporting) – 2011 Capital Fringe Festival
The Uses of Enchantment – Jenny Stone (Lead) – 2012 SOURCE Festival

What two roles are your dream roles to play in the future?

Nina Rosario – In The Heights
Catherine – A View From The Bridge

Why did you want to appear in George Mason University’s production of Into the Woods?

I wanted the opportunity to work with Ken Elston as a director and it had been entirely too long since I’d delved into musical theatre.

Introduce us to the role and character you are playing and tell me how you relate to this character.

Brittany Martz (The Witch) performing at the seventh annual ARTS by George! benefit event in September 2012. Photo by Stan Engebretson.

I play The Witch. She’s a very complicated woman – I’ll leave it at that. I think I can relate to her feistiness and her energy.

What has been the most difficult challenge learning your role?

The music, by far. I’m not a music major and tackling Sondheim has been a feat. That said, I feel as if this challenge has really helped me to grow as a performer.

What have you learned from your Musical Director and Director about playing your character and about singing this ‘not-so-easy’ score?

I’ve learned from Dr. Layendecker that it’s important to sell the song, that the “math” of the music shouldn’t trump the message of the music, and that if we stop thinking about the math it normally will fall into our laps with practice. Ken has taught me new ways of rehearsing and working through difficult scenes/scores.

What is your favorite line of lyrics from the show?

“Dwarves are very upsetting.”

How would you describe Stephen Sondheim’s score for Into the Woods?

Brilliant and challenging.

How is Into the Woods relevant today to students of your age?

I think Into the Woods is a great show for students my age to see because it really touches on what it means to “grow up.” We’re all emerging adults coming to terms with the fact that life isn’t easy – that we make mistakes, that our parents aren’t perfect, that sometimes no matter how much we do things “the correct way” they don’t always come out the how we expected them to. At the same time, the show helps to remind us that we’re not alone in this crazy “life” thing.

What is your favorite scene and song that you are not in and that you don’t sing?

My favorite scene that I’m not in is probably “Agony.” Matthew and Jacob are hilarious! My favorite song that I don’t perform in is “No One Is Alone.” Kate sings like and angel and the song has such a beautiful message.

Why should audiences come to see this production of Into the Woods?

Because Mason is doing new things and it’s exciting! Come grow with us!

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Jacob Lash 

My name is Jacob Lash. I am 23 years old. I grew up in Broad Run, VA. I’m a Junior.

What productions and roles have you played at GMU and elsewhere?

1. The Importance of Being Earnest – Algernon Moncrieff – Gainesville Theatre – Februrary, 2006.
2. Anne-Arky – Mr O’Neill – Gainesville Theatre – June, 2006.
3. It’s a Wonderful Life – George Bailey – Gainesville Theatre – December, 2007.
4. Charlotte’s Web – Lurvy – Riverside Dinner Theater – May, 2007.
5. Godspell – Jesus – Gainesville Theatre – December, 2009.
6. Godspell – Jesus – Fauquier Community Theater – October, 2011.

What two roles are your dream roles to play in the future?
Monsieur Thenardier from Les Miserables.
Fagin from Oliver!

Why did you want to appear in George Mason University’s production of Into the Woods?

I knew that George Mason University’s production of Into the Woods would be directed, managed, and produced by professionals. This is a rare opportunity for a young person, and I wanted the chance to learn from the best. I also knew it would be an incredible way to get to know my fellow Patriots a lot better – and I’ve had an incredible experience so far!

Introduce us to the role and character you are playing and tell me how you relate to this character.

Jacob Lash (Rapunzel’s Prince) performing at the seventh annual ARTS by George! benefit event in September 2012. Photo by Stan Engebretson.

I am playing Rapunzel’s Prince. He’s pretty into himself. He’s charming, dashing, handsome – and he knows it. He’s a hunter – always looking for the next woman in his life. I don’t relate a whole lot to this guy – except that he never finds total and complete satisfaction in another person, which I have found to be true in my life.

What has been the most difficult challenge learning your role?

Learning to play the badass who’s driven more by lust than by reason has been very fun but at times a challenge.

What have you learned from your Musical Director and Director about playing your character and about singing this ‘not-so-easy’ score?

TONS! I’ve learned a great deal about how to sing in such a way that the important words really pop out and grab the audience. Also, the direction of a musical line is so important. It’s so much more than simply singing the correct notes and getting the words right. It’s about communicating an idea, about expressing a desire or need, about getting your point across – and both the Musical Directors and Director have been exceptional in teaching the cast how to accomplish this.

What is your favorite line of lyrics from the show?

BAKER: Well… perhaps it will take the two of us to get this child.

How would you describe Stephen Sondheim’s score for Into the Woods?

Challenging on all fronts – melodically, rhythmically, and lyrically. Sondheim has woven together a masterpiece of humor, drama, and storytelling in his score. It’s difficult to learn, but it is entertaining, gripping, and effective. I love it.

How is Into the Woods relevant today to students of your age?

It’s a story about change – it’s easy for students to relate to what it means to face change.

What is your favorite scene and song that you are not in and that you don’t sing, and why?

“It Takes Two”- it’s a love song between the Baker and the Baker’s Wife. It’s different than your average musical theatre love song. It’s light, fun, cute, and funny. Most of all, it is full of relationship – it captures the relationship between a husband and wife who have intense struggles both as individuals and in their marriage….and yet love each other in their journey through the hills and valleys of life

Why should audiences come to see this production of Into the Woods?

It’s thoroughly entertaining. You’ll never believe how a bunch of fairy tale characters could both make you laugh and grip your heart until you’ve seen this production. It has something for everyone – it is both light and heavy, joyful and mournful, humorous and serious, frivolous and full of meaning.

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 Kate Merryman

My name is Kate Merryman. I am 21 and I grew up in Reston, VA. I am a Senior.

What productions and roles have you played at GMU and elsewhere?

George Mason University Opera – Amahl in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Pinellino in Gianna Schicci, Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at McLean Community Players, and Elle in Legally Blonde, the Musical at McLean Community Players

What two roles are your dream roles to play in the future?

Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and Eponine, Fantine, or Cosette in Les Miserables.

Why did you want to appear in George Mason University’s production of Into the Woods?

Into the Woods is such an amazing show and a challenging show. I was excited to take on this challenge. Also, being in a musical is such a joy. There is nothing like live theater.

Introduce us to the role and character you are playing and tell me how you relate to this character.

Kate Merryman (Cinderella) performing at the seventh annual ARTS by George! benefit event in September 2012. Photo by Stan Engebretson.

Cinderella is stuck in her father’s house with her “evil” step mother and sister. Her father ignores her. She is alone and constantly having to please everyone. The only people she has are her friends, the birds, and her Mother’s grave. Yet, Cinderella is a dreamer and a wisher. She is not content with her current situation so she goes on a journey to find what she really wants. In the process she grows up and becomes wiser. I am a dreamer as well. I love to imagine what my life will be like in the future. I also like to think of myself as brave and daring. I relate most to those two qualities.

What has been the most difficult challenge learning your role?

Finding the arch in the character and the emotional and internal journey within the character. Then taking the audience on that journey with me.

What have you learned from your Musical Director and Director about playing your character and about singing this ‘not-so-easy’ score?

“Everything is music,” Dr. Laynedecker says. You truly can’t separate the two, otherwise you get a disconnect between the stories. Also, the intent and objective. There are so many intricate relationships in this story that every line and song has to have an intent, they are not just place holders or transitions.

What is your favorite line of lyrics from the show?

“My father’s house was a nightmare, your house was a dream, now I want something in between.”

How would you describe Stephen Sondheim’s score for Into the Woods?

Complex, but brilliant. He writes for intent and objective. There is a reason for every pause, every rhythm, and every dynamic.

How is Into the Woods relevent today to students of your age?

We all still wish and we all face obstacles, but it is how  you handle those obstacles that make you who you are. That is how you grow as a person, you face the problems, even if you make mistakes you learn something knew.

What is your favorite scene and song that you are not in and that you don’t sing, and why?

“I Know Things Now” because she talks about learning new things. She made discovers, which is what life is about.

Why should audiences come to see this production of Into the Woods?

It is a twist on the fairy tale characters everyone knows—they are real! They are real people that everyone can relate to. On a basic level, the show is fun, entertaining, and is full of magic! What is better than that?!

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 Miranda Carver

My name is Miranda Carver. I am 19 and I grew up in West Point, VA. I am in my second year.

What productions and roles have you played at GMU and elsewhere?

Sandy in Grease at West Point High School.
Maggie in Brigadoon at West Point High School.

What two roles are your dream roles to play in the future?

I actually do not have my sights set on a future in performance. Instead my two dream roles would be that of educator and that of global citizen.

Why did you want to appear in George Mason University’s production of Into the Woods?

One of my favorite things about being a student at George Mason University is the opportunity to be a part of so many new and exciting ventures. As I love to perform, I thought this production would be a great way to take advantage of that.

Introduce us to the role and character you are playing and tell me how you relate to this character.

Rapunzel is a young woman who, upon reaching puberty, was placed by her foster mother – the Witch – in a doorless, stairless tower. She has mixed feelings about the Witch, both her jailer and her provider, and becomes very lonely and restless in her prison. I most identify with my character in her discovery that, despite what the Witch has been insisting, there are wonderful things “out there in the world.” However, unfortunately for Rapunzel, she is not prepared to deal with the realization that there are horrible things that come along with the good.

What has been the most difficult challenge learning your role?

For me the hardest part has probably been learning how to handle the various starting notes of my repeated vocal line. I sing it frequently, sometimes offstage, and often the notes are hard to land on in context.

What have you learned from your Musical Director and Director about playing your character and about singing this ‘not-so-easy’ score?

The teamwork Director Elston and Dr. Layendecker, has given this production a lot of color. Director Elston really focuses on helping us to find the genuine needs of our characters, and Dr. Layendecker helps us to decipher the musical clues that underline certain concepts and add comedy throughout the work.

What is your favorite line of lyrics from the show?

My favorite line comes from the song, “No One is Alone,” and reads, “Witches can be right, giants can be good. You decide what’s right, you decide what’s good.” I think it’s important to remind ourselves that labels and group affiliations do not determine the personal merit of the individual, and that we must conduct ourselves based on our own sets of values, not on the “rules” of belonging to a particular group, whether that be a political party, a religion, a nation, or a culture.

How would you describe Stephen Sondheim’s score for Into the Woods?

I feel it would be hard to refute the assertion that Sondheim is a master of his trade. This score is full of what Dr. Layendecker calls “arches,” the reappearance of musical ideas, both obvious and subtle, that send important messages. For example, in the finale of Act I, the characters insist that “You mustn’t stop, you mustn’t swerve, you mustn’t ponder. You have to act!” In Act II, however, within the same musical context, the characters have changed their message: “You can’t just act, you have to listen. You can’t just act, you have to think.”

How is Into the Woods relevant today to students of your age?

One of the wonderful things about being a student and being young is the fact that we are in the process of “pursuing our wishes.” This is the main concern of Act I, at the end of which all the “good” characters “get what they deserve,” as do the “bad” characters (or so our culture labels them). However, Act II reminds us that our stories do not end when we accomplish a goal; the characters must face the consequences of their previous actions. That’s something that I think is important for my age group to remember.

What is your favorite scene and song that you are not in and that you don’t sing, and why?

I have to say my favorite is the scene that includes the songs “Your Fault” and the Witch’s “Last Midnight.” This is in part out of admiration for my teammates (I would consider this scene one of the more challenging, both musically and emotionally). But I am also intrigued by the Witch’s response to becoming a victim, of sorts, of the prejudice against her as “The Witch.” Her solo includes many thought-provoking lines that force the listener to reflect on his or her own use of prejudice, including “Of course all that really matters in the blame,” “You’re so nice. You’re not good, you’re not bad, you’re just nice,” and “I’m what no one believes, I’m the Witch.”

Why should audiences come to see this production of Into the Woods?

This production is worth seeing because of its role in the larger context of performance art. I would encourage people to see not only this team’s interpretation, but also that of others. That is where I believe the value of art is – in seeing all of the different ways people can derive meaning from the same work or set of circumstances.

Into the Woods plays at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts Concert Hall – located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123, in Fairfax, VA. Performances are on Friday, October 26, 2012 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012 at 4 p.m. For tickets, purchase them online. Here are directions.