Behind The Scenes of "Into The Woods"
When The Brookfield Theatre for the Arts decided to mount Stephen Sondheim''s Into The Woods, they knew it would be a serious undertaking in many ways. Beyond the intricate script, challenging score and demanding costuming, the play would require a high level of creativity from the director and production team as well as the actors.
Fortunately, TBTA had the right director for this production in Maureen Trotto. Maureen has directed numerous plays in the past, from her early days as a student at the prestigious Carnegie-Mellon Institute to her role as professor at University of North Carolina School of Art & Design and, later, as the founder of a national touring theater company.
In recent years, Ms. Trotto has directed several highly imaginative plays on the Brookfield stage including Carnival, Spoon River Anthology, Spelling Bee, Sylvia, and the world premiere of Thou Shalt Not Dance. Her capable and inspired directing has been complemented by the beautiful set designs provided by her husband Duane E. Langenwalter. His degree work in Stage Design was the inspiration for a career in interior design, and later as a designer for "Thin Air LLC" which he founded with his wife, Maureen Trotto, and her sister, Laureen Trotto, designing and producing a wide range of toys and other creative works for major corporate accounts.
For "Into The Woods", one of the challenges was to make one actor into an ugly, wicked witch who must transform into a beautiful enchantress right in front of the audience. The other was to allow another actor to portray both a beguiling wolf as well as a handsome prince. Feeling that simply makeup would not provide the needed effect, Maureen Trotto decided to create custom-made masks for this production.
The actors graciously gave up a Saturday afternoon for the beginning process. Marilyn Olsen (the witch) and Mensah Robinson (the wolf) began by spreading vaseline on their faces (photo 1) while New Milford High School student volunteer Sheridan Jones prepared strips of mold-making plaster for the next step (photo 2).
Maureen carefully molded each actor''s face (photo 3, 4, 5) to create the mask "blanks" (photo 6).
After this first step was completed, Maureen sculpted each mask to create the characters as she envisioned them. (photo 7). Once the sculpting was complete and the final masks were created, she painted the masks (photo 8) and added detailing to give the right dramatic effect once they were under theater lighting.
Below is the final result - (photo 9) Mensah Robinson is the Wicked Wolf and (photo 10) Marilyn Olsen is the Wicked Witch and the results on stage (photos by Stephen Cihanek): (photo 11 and photo 12)
"Into The Woods" (book by James Lapine, music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim) is in it's final weekend at The Brookfield Theatre for the Arts with shows on Friday, Oct. 12 and Saturday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. Tickets, while they last, are available at www.BrookfieldTheatre.org or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/267717.