By Katie Foster, Contributor
There is a guy taking pulls from a handle in the corner, outbreaks of dancing, impromptu sexual romps and motley crews looking for a happy ending for the night. No, this is not a scene from a college Saturday night. It is a rehearsal for Furman University’s Pauper Players upcoming production of “Into the Woods.”
The lively musical “Into the Woods” reshapes and mingles the fates of characters from classic fairy tales like “Cinderella,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Rapunzel” and “Little Red Riding Hood.” Their paths begin to cross as a baker and his wife search to undo a curse that has left them unable to have children. The Pauper Players, Furman’s only student-led musical theatre organization, will be taking on this popular show Feb. 4-6 at 8 p.m. in McAlister Auditorium.
Student director Dan Brown, ‘18, builds onto the magic with a few twists. The storybook tales come to life with gigantic books for stage props. The spirited cast lifts even more characters off the pages than the original production. In reaction to an influx of exceptional auditions, Brown decided to create an ensemble to accompany the core cast. As an underclassman who does not major in theatre, Brown has reason to give a few more Furman students a chance to shine.
Being a fly on the wall during rehearsal, I could see many students doing just that—shining. Understudies as equally animated as their counterparts on center stage silently mouthed the lyrics. Other understudies took turns filling in during the busy weeknight that demands Furman students to be in three places at once. Amidst the drama of princesses, meetings, musical numbers, papers and evil witches, the Pauper Players are creating a uniquely powerful production.
Brown directs this busy cast with the philosophy of letting the characters build up naturally from the students portraying them. He tells his cast to “question how your character would react and justify why that works.” For him, giving creative license to a student actor is just another part of seeing how much a student run show can achieve.
Even though “Into the Woods” throws the audience for a ride as it complicates the simple plot of happily ever after, you will certainly be pleasantly entertained for the evening. As I watched the incredibly fast paced number “Your Fault,” Brown leaned over to say “if a sophomore can command the stage here and now, imagine what they could do in a few more years.” As the group prepares for shows now and in the future, the Furman community should be prepared for a fresh wave of talent from the underclassmen.