TWO closing 60th season with ‘Into the Woods’

April 11, 2024 | 12:13 am

Updated April 11, 2024 | 11:22 am

Theatre Workshop of Owensboro is closing out its 60th season over the next two weekends with Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.” With a season of revivals, Director Preston Middleton said he wanted to incorporate a different twist to the fantastical and familiar story.

With two previous performances, it was important to Middleton not to tell the traditional story of people running through a forest. Instead, he opted to make the story more Southern Gothic, reminiscent of the stories of the Brothers Grimm by which the vignettes are inspired — with a bit of a local twist.

“Sondheim has said that no matter what your budget is, you’re here to honor these characters and their story. So it’s a show that really lends itself to being remade,” Middleton said.

Middleton chose to focus on darker aspects in the set design for this version of the musical. The set plays into the decay of an abandoned house, which reminds Middleton of some abandoned buildings in town or even metaphorically represented in some viewers’ own lives.

With seven entrances and exits on stage, Middleton enables the cast to tell the stories uniquely and find a new rhythm to their art.

The 18 characters in the show may be struggling with the fantasy problem of selling a cow for magical beans, but Middleton said that, like life, they still have hope for better and find a bit of happiness in their story.

“So that’s kind of the feeling I wanted to go in this whole process and this whole show too. That’s what the whole show is about. It’s about seeing those stories and learning those lessons and those wishes,” Middleton said.

The position of the play in the season is not coincidental. As the season closer, Middleton said it is also a deliberate choice to show some of the age and decay that come with the past and is also a peek into the future of the theatre program.

“This is the final show of the season. For our 60th anniversary, we’ve celebrated where we come from, and I want to celebrate where we’ve been, but also where we’re going and what we could do,” Middleton said.

The cast has joked that they have assembled the Avengers of Owensboro, with several longtime actors and newer faces. Middleton said the future of the workshop is just that: an assembly of creators of all performance abilities.

While the grim moments of the show may contain themes of persistence, the show lends itself to uniting people in those moments, just as TWO does in its work as an organization.

“I really want them to see what art is in their community and what we do best, which is tell stories for you to have fun and that this is a place to find a way to escape, but also to connect,” Middleton said.

The show opens on Friday and runs for the next two weekends. Tickets can be purchased here.

April 11, 2024 | 12:13 am

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