Into The “Way-Back-When”
Current cast members of Into the Woods reflect on their past experiences with their involvement in previous Circle productions of the Sondheim favorite
Matt Tepper as Jack in Into The Woods, 2002
In celebration of our upcoming production of Into The Woods, we had the pleasure of sitting down with two local actors who are familiar faces to the Circle stage. Today we’ll hear from Dave Duiven and Matt Tepper about their past and present experiences with the show. Catch Dave as the Mysterious Man/Cinderella’s Father and Matt as the Baker on stage May 3-19.
CIRCLE: You both performed in Into The Woods in the past; Dave, you were in the 1992 cast, and Matt, you were in the 2002 cast - both at Circle in the Park. Why did you decide to audition for it again?
DAVE: The show was very rewarding the first time, and it's always fun to see what a different cast and production team does with a new interpretation. Stephen Sondheim's score is beautiful, stirring, fun, insightful, relevant, meaningful, and so many other wonderful things, and it's always a pleasure to sing his music, whether it's a first time, or repeated.
MATT: I have not been in a production since Jesus Christ Superstar and I really missed the whole experience of putting a show on stage. I really just desperately wanted to get back on the boards and perform.
CIRCLE: What was your initial impression of Into The Woods the first time you performed the show with Circle?
DAVE: It was a talented cast with a lot of creativity, energy and enthusiasm, and the show was newly available to community theatres at that time, so it was exciting to be part of it. Director Ken Tepper's vision for the show was great, plus I absolutely loved the role I got to play, The Baker. I had great respect for my castmates and it was rewarding to have them as scene partners.
MATT: It was an incredible experience that I got to share with my wife and my dad, as Lynne played the witch and my father was the director. An interesting side note to the last production is that Lynne and I were married that summer and went into rehearsals two days later.
CIRCLE: How does your current 2018 cast of Into The Woods compare with your previous cast?
DAVE: The current cast is equally as enthusiastic about the material, and very dedicated to bringing another great interpretation to Circle Theatre. People are making lots of fun and different character choices which is fascinating to watch.
MATT: It is hard to compare the two, however one similarity is both casts are immensely talented. Oh and I am playing The Baker this time around and not Jack.
Annie Beals as the Baker’s Wife, Kasie Schoaf as Little Red, and Dave Duiven as the Baker in Into The Woods, 1992
CIRCLE: Have you noticed differences in your interpretation compared to the Circle performers who played the roles before you?
DAVE: Definitely different than last time, in that director Todd Avery is bringing a fresh treatment to the show, which is great, rather than a redo of what's been done before. I think this production and interpretation will be much more relevant for the 2018 audience.
MATT: In this production we are really striving to create real people that have flaws and not storybook characters like most productions you might see.
CIRCLE: What have you now learned about Into The Woods from your involvement in the show a second time?
DAVE: I was much younger the first time, and because I didn't have as much life experience, I now have a more keen awareness of the adult themes of the show, specifically in the second act. Because of things that I've experienced in my own life since then, the themes seem even more powerful.
MATT: With the vision Todd Avery is bringing as the director I am finding a lot more nuance to the characters than perhaps I would have noticed my previous time performing the show.
CIRCLE: What do you think the audience can learn from seeing Into The Woods?
DAVE: The real world is not a fairy tale, and there aren't always happy endings. And that adults are constantly modeling behaviors that children will be shaped by, both good ones and bad ones, and we must be very careful with the choices we make. In the case of one of my characters, the Mysterious Man, he has to cope with the consequences of some of the bad choices he's made, and he doesn't want to see his son make the same mistakes. It is very relatable to things that have happened in my own life, and I'd dare to say in all of the lives of people seeing the show, because as a human race, we're all flawed people, and no matter how much we long for a life that we can live "happily ever after," it doesn't always end up that way.
MATT: I think the underlying message is that everyone no matter how good or bad when desperate enough to get the thing they most want has the potential to do bad things to satisfy that desire or want.
CIRCLE: How have current political and worldly events affected your view of the show today?
DAVE: The horrible political climate in Washington, the way technology, social media and addictive cell phone use are changing the way we relate to each other, reminds me of The Witch's warnings throughout the show for example when she sings "careful the things you say, children will listen". A lot of the show's themes are like a metaphor for what's happening in the world today.
MATT: The political climate today certainly made me examine that idea of getting what you want using whatever tactics necessary. You see examples of blatant lies and half truths being used to create political advantages almost daily. You see politicians ignore their own stated moral positions merely to receive a political favor.
CIRCLE: What is your favorite fairytale character from your childhood?
DAVE: Jack and the Beanstalk. Who doesn't want to climb a beanstalk into the clouds?
MATT: My favorite fairytale character would have to be Jack. I mean come on, he is climbing a huge beanstalk into the clouds and fighting a giant!
Into The Woods is on stage at Circle Theatre May 3-19. You can purchase tickets at circletheatre.org or by calling 616 456 6656 or visiting the box office at the Performing Arts Center located at 1703 Robinson Road SE, Monday-Friday between noon and 5:00PM. Ticket prices start at $26. For more information about Into The Woods, the cast, and special events, CLICK HERE.