Meet The Baker and The Baker’s Wife in George Mason University’s production of Into the Woods.
My name is Kyle Imperatire. I am 19 years old and I grew up in the town of Mastic Beach on Long Island, New York. I am a Sophomore.
My name is Cara Pellegrino. I am 26 and grew up in Rockville, MD. I am a first semester graduate student.
What productions and roles have you played at George Mason University and elsewhere?
Kyle: Mason Opera
The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter, KCB, First Lord of the Admiralty – H.M.S. Pinafore
Foxwell J. Sly and the Honorable Judge Thunder T. Bastardson –
William Floyd High School Nathan Detroit – Guys and Dolls (Nominated for STARS Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical)
Dromio from Syracuse – The Boys from Syracuse (Won STARS Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical)
Tommy – Ah, Wilderness!
Mr. Lundie – Brigadoon
Rev. Arthur Humphrey – See How They Run
Ensemble – Cabaret
Nico – A Stone in the Road
Dr. Einstein – Arsenic and Old Lace
Mayor Shinn – The Music Man, Jr.
Cara: This is my first role at GMU, but I participate in surrounding community theaters. Past roles include: Mary Flynn in Merrily We Roll Along (Wildwood Summer Theater), Mayzie la Bird in Seussical (Kensington Arts Theater 2nd Stage), Eve/Mama Noah in Children of Eden (Greenbelt Arts Center), and Ado Annie in Oklahoma! (Rockville Musical Theater).
What two roles are your dream roles to play in the future?
Kyle: Honestly, I don’t really hope for anything so as to not be upset if I miss a chance. I have always had a dream to play Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, though.
Cara: Diana Goodman in Next to Normal and Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd.
Why did you want to appear in George Mason University’s production of Into the Woods.
Kyle: I love performing, and as stressful as it is, its great to keep busy with a great cast. Joining a production is always a learning experience.
Cara: Into the Woods has been on my “bucket list” of shows I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I applied to grad school in the spring, was accepted and signed up for my class (as a working music teacher, my plan was to take one class at a time), and then found out they were doing this show. I thought it couldn’t have been more of a sign that I should audition.
Introduce us to the role and character you are playing and tell me how you relate to this character.
Kyle: The character that I am playing is The Baker, and while most of the other characters in the show have homes in their respective fairy tales, the Baker and his wife do not. They are much like regular people, and at first it seems like they don’t belong in the woods. Because of an arcane spell placed on him and his parents, he and his wife are unable to have a child, and it has caused a great deal of awkward tension between the two. Fortunately, their neighbor, the Witch, offers to lift the spell she cast if they can find four strange objects in the woods. The Baker, wishing to make it up to his wife, decides to go out alone to find the objects, against her wishes. I have found many ways to relate to the Baker, being that throughout a majority of the play the Baker is seen as a sort of wimpy guy (who is indeed afraid of the woods), and yet wishes to accomplish things on his own, without the help of others, to prove his worth. He matures by the end, and takes on the father-figure heroic role that all men aspire to be. In many ways, the character and his father remind me of my own father and grandfather, and this relation has helped me develop his personality.
Cara: I play The Baker’s Wife. She and her husband (the Baker) want a child more than anything in this world, and throughout the course of the first act go through a great deal to get one. I relate to the Baker’s Wife, because she is a good person, and she tries, but things keep cropping up which make her stray from her path.
What has been the most difficult challenge learning your role?
Kyle: I would say, this being my first college musical production, my biggest challenge has been breaking habits that either do not speak well on stage or do not fit the character. It’s also difficult because, as I am a college student and not a father, I am trying to mature at the same time as my character in a similar way.
Cara: On the surface, The Baker’s Wife seems to be a simple character to understand, but as I’ve been delving deeper I have found there to be layers upon layers. I think this is what has been a big challenge for me – making sure that I’m getting the complexities across in my acting.
What have you learned from your Musical Director and Director about playing your character and about singing this ‘not-so-easy’ score?
Kyle: My director has been an immense help throughout this process, and has taught me how to act more realistically for the part, so that the emotions of a regular man trying to become a father really shine through to the audience. My musical director has also been very helpful in showing us the importance of certain lyrical and melodic ideas and in getting us to portray the music in a way that is representative of Sondheim’s musical genius.
Cara: I think the biggest thing I have learned is that there are cues everywhere within the music about how to interpret each song. There are clues within the lyrics, the melody line, the accompaniment … it’s easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention.
What is your favorite line of lyrics from the show?
Kyle: Oh, this is a hard one. There are so many areas where the wordplay is witty and thought provoking, but I would have to say my favorite line of lyrics is from the song “Maybe They’re Magic,” towards the end, when the Baker’s Wife proclaims, “Only three more tries and we’ll have our prize. When the ends in sight, you’ll realize: if the end is right, it justifies the beans!”
[Joel’s note: It’s my favorite lyric line too Kyle!]
Cara: “Into the woods to get the thing that makes it worth the journeying.”
How would you describe Sondheim’s score for Into the Woods?
Kyle: Sondheim is no doubt one of the greatest musical geniuses of our time, and this score is no exception to his amazing body of work. The score for Into the Woods is both familiar, as the simple melodies and storylines harken back to childhood fairytales and folksongs, and at the same time very strange. Melodic lines are sometimes very disjunct and the harmonies are often very unusual, but Sondheim still manages to pull it all together into a score that is coherent and oftentimes revelatory.
Cara: Thick – both openings have all the characters on stage overlapping their singing lines. It makes the pieces very interesting for the listener, both visually and aurally, but is not the easiest to learn!
How is Into the Woods relevant today to students of your age?
Kyle: Into the Woods is one of those shows that will always remain relevant. The characters are nostalgic beings that every child knows well, but in this show, they are faced with real world problems that everyone confronts at some point or another. For Jack, it’s trying to become a man without hurting your overbearing parent, for Little Red Riding Hood, it’s moving from naiveté into the harsh reality of a world filled with dangerous and bad people. Even Cinderella faces a problem that we see televised all the time: a case of rags to riches, where neither world is as happy as one would like. The morals found in each individual character’s story, and in their stories as a group, are unending and benevolent.
Cara: All of these characters are wishing for things that people wish for today; a child, going to the ball (or the cool party), wishing for enough money to get buy. I think these things are easy for people of all ages to relate to, which is why it makes it such a great show. Both kids and adults can come and enjoy it and see themselves in any of these characters.
What is your favorite scene and song that you are not in and that you don’t sing, and why?
Kyle: I love humor, and there is no song in the show that gets me like “Agony” (and Reprise). The music is so witty, and our Princes do such a great job that it is impossible not to laugh!
Cara: I think my favorite song/scene that I am not in is “Your Fault,” sung by Cinderella, the Baker, Jack and Little Red. It’s another one of those overlapping, quick-paced songs, that takes a LOT of rehearsal time to get right, but when it’s there it is just so great to watch! A child’s instinct to point the finger at someone else is very ingrained (which doesn’t go away as we grow up, either), and this song gets the speed and feel of tattling across so well.
Why should audiences come to see this production of Into the Woods?
Kyle: We’ve worked really hard to put an emphasis on the morals of the show, and to develop each character to their fullest potential. The cast is made up of some of the best actors and singers in the area, and since it is the first musical Mason has put on in a very long time, we’ve pulled out all of the stops. People of all ages can find different aspects of the show to love, to laugh at, to think about, and, maybe, even to cry over. If there is one production this year that will actually build the character of the audience member, it is our production of Into the Woods.
Cara: Audiences should come see this production of Into the Woods for three reasons:
1. This is the first collaborative production between the Mason Theater and Music Departments – this is a huge task, and it’s going very well!
2. The cast is incredibly talented and fun to watch!
3. There is something for every age group in this show, so anyone can come and enjoy the performance!
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, October 27, 2012 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and on Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 4 p.m. For tickets, purchase them online. Here are directions.