Concept Players are taking on their first full musical since Covid-19 and have chosen the Stephen Sondheim’s critically acclaimed, Into the Woods. Bringing their own unique take on this classic twisted fairytale, with exciting costumes, imaginative designs and their talented performers. We spoke to the Director of this production, Shane Rose-Goodsir about this exciting upcoming performance.
What has it been like to tackle such a profound, well-known musical?
I have been a lover of Stephen Sondheim since I was 17, playing Tobias in Sweeney Todd, and have performed in a few of his musicals over the years. His work has always meant a lot to me and I realised after his passing, that if it wasn’t for his musicals, I probably wouldn’t still be doing theatre. I will always enjoy finding old interviews with him and finding out more about what he liked or didn’t like about his own work. It will never not be fascinating to me to learn more about the man behind the magic that takes place on stage.
I was very lucky when it came to putting together the show. I had my spark of an idea, confirmed that I was going to be directing it, made a start on sketching some set and costumes designs, and then the pandemic hit. We agreed to move the show on a clear two years rather than bumping it a little at a time. Which meant I had nearly three years worth of researching, planning, blocking and designing the show! It was a bit of a gift to have that time so that when we started rehearsals everything was already in place and I could be absolutely clear on my approach.
Hopefully all that time and effort will then come across the footlights and make Sondheim fans proud!
What drew you to put on Into the Woods?
The thing that has always drawn me to Into the Woods is the mix of the classic tales. I’m a lover of myths, monsters and folklore, spending my free time finding documentaries or videos online about where classic stories, such as Little Red Riding Hood and Jack the Beanstalk originated. So many of the stories we know and love started as folk tales being shared from one family to another and then from town to town.
The stories in Into the Woods were born out of these folk tales, so this is why I wanted to take the show back to its origins and it gave me the idea of a travelling show. James Lapine’s script and Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics are simply incredible. It’s one of their most critically acclaimed shows, so to be able to bring my Tim Burton/Terry Gilliam-esque mind to this has been an absolute delight.
This is your first full musical following the pandemic, what has the rehearsal process been like after such a long break?
It has been very exciting being back in the rehearsal room for a show, our production of Anything Goes was meant to be our first back but unfortunately that had to be postponed again until next year. We were still in the grips of the pandemic with just enough restrictions being lifted for us to rehearse but it was incredibly difficult, we then decided to put on a celebration of Concept Past, Present and (possible) Future in June, which still had it’s covid-issues but went ahead very successfully.
It has felt like a weight has been lifted somewhat for this production, we are still being cautious but so far things have gone extremely well and we have been able to work around any issues that have arisen. The cast are chomping at the bit to be back on stage properly in a full scale musical.
I think the fact we have always had such a long standing relationship with Sondheim musicals coupled with this being our first big show back after all this time has made for something very special that will mean a lot to our company. The pressure on myself to get this right has certainly been on!
What can people expect when they come and see Into the Woods?
Audiences can expect a weird and wonderful production, mixing Vaudeville, travelling shows, folk tales and myths with Sondheim’s gorgeous and ingenious music. The text and music is untouched but the design is something very different! I spent a lot of time during the pandemic researching other productions from over the last three decades (both professional and amateur) to see if anyone had done this approach- no one has. I hope that’s a good thing!
We have an incredible cast made up of local talent who have been seen in lots of different societies as well as Concept stalwarts, some of whom have performed or been involved in every Sondheim show we have done over the last 27 years!
This production really is going to be a Concept Players musical not to be missed.
What do you think draws people to theatre, either as an audience member or being part of a show?
I’m sure everyone who is asked this questions has the same response, there is nothing like live theatre. Of being in a room full of people all there with the same common interest or goal to either watch something magical being brought to life on stage or to be up on stage, feeding off the energy from the audience and being able to entertain them for a night- transporting them into a different world.
I have seen theatre from all angles over my nearly thirty years of being a part of it, both on and off stage and in a variety of different jobs and roles, and I can easily say that it is a wonderful world to be a part of. I urge anyone wanting to be a part of a theatre to get involved, on stage, off stage, even in the audience. It can enrich and even change your life.
Concept Player’s ‘Into the Woods’ will be playing at the Paget Rooms in Penarth from the 14th-17th September. All performance with start at 7:30pm and you can get your tickets at just £13 by calling 02920 708037 or online here