ZCHS Presents: ‘Into the Woods’

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A Grand Return to Live In-Person Performances

ZCHS Into the Woods

October 2021

Have you been missing live, in-person musicals as much as I have? You won’t want to miss Zionsville Community High School’s presentation of “Into the Woods,” music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, coming to STAR Bank PAC Nov. 11–13!

A Brief Synopsis

“Into the Woods” follows a Baker and his wife, who wish to have a child; Cinderella, who wishes to attend the King’s Festival; and Jack, who wishes his cow would give milk. When the Baker and his wife learn that they cannot have a child because of a Witch’s curse, the two set off on a journey to break the curse. Everyone’s wish is granted, but the consequences of their actions return to haunt them later with disastrous results.

ZCHS Into the Woods

A Few Inspiring Words From the Director

ZCHS Choral & Musical Theater Director Sam Chenoweth spoke with me about what it means for the entire cast and crew to be performing in front of live and hopefully sold-out audiences again and how they are working through pandemic and construction restrictions.

“The construction protocol limits our seating from the 1,200-plus to 999 [seats] per show,” Chenoweth stated. “That’s because we lost the whole north side of the building, and so it will be limited for the next two years. But it’s much better than the 50% capacity that was previously in place.”

When asked why he chose “Into the Woods” as this year’s musical, Chenoweth replied, “It’s a great way to bring people back in to celebrate the arts at the high school level. I feel like the first priority for any show is knowing your cliental, and I don’t feel that this show has that regularly at the high school level. So, knowing that we have basically everything covered in terms of options for characters, we went into this knowing that we have a really strong cast from top to bottom. We have a cast and crew of 35 students with a variety of talents and skill sets. We have freshmen through seniors with lots of different experiences represented.”

ZCHS Into the Woods

Chenoweth continued, “We wanted to do something well-known, and we didn’t want to do another Disney show this soon after ‘Newsies.’ This [show] is a good contrast from the programming that we’ve done the last couple of years. We haven’t really done anything since I came here that is more classical musical theater-based with limited choreography and is all about the vocal chops. This show is a good fit for what we have right now and is a good challenge for us.”

A Twist on the Original Broadway Presentation

“There are lots and lots of lights, and while the music is the same, we’re costuming it a little bit more modernly—not the ‘period’ look that you’d expect to see in ‘Into the Woods,’” Chenoweth explained. “In terms of design choices, it will be reminiscent of what you know from Broadway or other productions. We’re still leaning into the projection [technology] and those effects in terms of set design. My goal has been to go minimal because there’s so much happening in the music that I want to let that speak for itself.”

ZCHS Into the Woods

All Together Again

I asked Chenoweth how the students and staff are reacting to being together, rehearsing, again as a group and if this semblance of “normal” has been cathartic for all involved.

“It’s been good to be able to have some things that are a little more normal in terms of full company numbers,” Chenoweth expressed. “It’s been fun to have them all in a room. They’ve built a mock set in the rehearsal room so they’re getting to feel what [the set] is going to be like and spend time with each other in large groups. Between the leads and the supporting characters, it’s a larger-than-average cast, and they’ve been spending a lot of time together. They are eager and excited.”

Chenoweth continued, “We started this whole process last spring when we auditioned before school was even out, and then I saw the leads twice over summer. We hit the ground running before the start of this school year, and I’m glad we started when we did. It’s been a good process and spaced out a little more, so that’s been less stressful in terms of daily commitments. But the broad sense of the production is certainly the biggest we’ve had.”

I asked Chenoweth about the importance and mental impact it has on the cast and crew being able to perform in front of live, in-person audiences.

“I think we are all guardedly optimistic,” Chenoweth stated. “Things are definitely getting better, but we’re all looking for when the next shoe’s going to drop. The kids are encouraged by the ticket sales and at the potential to sell these shows out. Performing for a fully sold-out PAC would be a major steppingstone towards getting back to ‘normal.’ The senior class especially has risen to the challenge, and they’ve done a good job stewarding the underclassmen through all of this.”

Tickets to ZCHS’ presentation of “Into the Woods” show times are available at zionsvillepac.org.