Into the Woods Cast & Crew Spotlight: Kaitie Graves and Jesse Vale

By: Emma Grimm

Kaitie Graves
Photo by Michael Presley Bobbitt

Name: Kaitie Graves
I play:  I’m the Director!
My favorite show is: Next to Normal
My favorite food is: anything you can microwave
Something weird about me: I’ve never broken a bone.

Madam Director. You have taken on a feat like no other. Sondheim is not something to be taken lightly. I do hope that you are proud of the work you’ve done – I know the cast is. I have a million questions to ask, but I’ll try and narrow it down.

Why direct Into the Woods again? Is there something you felt you needed to do differently, or could do differently this time around

I’m so proud of everyone! I directed this show again because I really enjoy the process of it all. It’s a show that starts in pieces and seeing it all come together is almost like magic. I wanted to do things that were slightly more challenging to the actors and really focus on character development. I think because of how fast-paced the show is, actors can either drown in it all or really shine. I think we’ve managed to really showcase some talented individuals during the process. I felt I could go darker and be really creative.

How is this production bringing something new to this story?

I think what’s different about this production and the way we’ve developed it is that we’ve really pushed for good acting. Sometimes musicals can come off corny because the acting in between the songs is subpar, but we’ve managed to find a good balance.

Why do you think this show is important and has continued to be revered as one of Sondheim’s greatest works?

We all have ideas on how our lives should be, and we beat ourselves up when we don’t meet those expectations. This production shows the viewer that life doesn’t come with a manual, and sometimes the paths we choose change and can become something more beautiful than we ever expected.

I think this show is one of Sondheim’s greatest because it is a challenging production. Not just acting and singing but lighting, sound, costumes, blocking…he wrote it in such a way that allows actors and directors to “fill in the blanks” and really make it their own. Also, people love watching storybook characters in a dark light. Idk why, people are just weird like that.

Without giving anything away what’s your favorite line in the show, either from the dialogue or from a song?

I like Cinderella’s Prince’s line, “I was raised to be charming, not sincere” because it calls out every storybook prince and I think that’s hilarious.

Jesse Vale
Photo by Michael Presley Bobbitt

Name: Jesse Vale
I play: Narrator/Mysterious Man
My favorite show is: Jesus Christ Superstar (always wanted to play Pilate or Chaiaphas)
My favorite food is: Cheese
Something weird about me: My eyes don’t close when I sleep so I have to put ointment in my eyes before bed.

You have, I dare say, the most important role(s) in the show. The Narrator drives the story along, and the Mysterious Man helps the audience piece everything together. How are you handling the frequent switches between both characters? Is there one you prefer over the other, and why?

Quick changes are always suspenseful, but Eric and Saie are both great help backstage. Both roles present different challenges. Leading the ensemble in the Act 1 Finale is a little overwhelming. Doing justice to singing “No More” is of course daunting. It’s really a toss up which role I like more. They’re both so different, almost a yin yang.

Besides yourself, who is your favorite character?

I love the witch. She’s tough, smart, and practical and has some of the best songs.

What do you think makes this production different and special?

The esprit de’corps of this cast makes it special for me.