Into the Woods Cast & Crew Spotlight: Jennifer Hutton, Elizabeth Rossen, and Norma Berger

By: Emma Grimm

Photo by Michael Presley Bobbitt

Name: Jennifer Hutton  
I play: Lucinda
My favorite show is: It’s too hard to pick a favorite.
My favorite food is: Anything with cheese. Or seafood. No wait, diet coke. NO WAIT, PICKLES.
Something weird about me: I can make my stomach growl.

Congratulations on conquering your first musical! Since starting this rehearsal process, you’ve gained noticeable confidence in your vocals. What challenges did you face while learning this music, and how were you able to overcome them?

I’m used to doing straight shows, so the rehearsal process for this musical has been a very different experience for me. Sometimes different can be uncomfortable. The biggest challenge has definitely been tackling fears I have about singing, but this show requires everybody to be on point; knowing that others were relying on me helped me overpower my fear. And everybody in the cast was so supportive!

What has been the most rewarding part of this process for you?

I may never be a musical lead or be excited about karaoke, but I’ve done the thing.

What has been your favorite part about playing Lucinda?

She doesn’t have a lot of stage time, but she has some great moments that I’ve found to be really fun. And I have a built-in buddy! Also my wig is amazing.

Besides yourself, who is your favorite character?

I love how Devin plays Jack – he’s hilarious, and he has a great voice. If only he would stop murdering giants in his spare time, the little deviant.

What do you think makes this production different and special?

The atmosphere we have created for this show is amazing. The set, lights, costumes, and characters all come together to create such an intimate experience. I think the audience will really feel like they have come into the woods with us.

Photo by Michael Presley Bobbitt

Name: Elizabeth Rossen
I play:  Florinda
My favorite show is: (right now) In the Heights
My favorite food is: The only thing better than a BLT is some sort of sweet baked good.
Something weird about me: I am a chronic over-thinker and simple questions like these are agonizing.

The Stepsisters are certainly two of the darker characters in the show, but they do add plenty of comic relief throughout. What value beyond humor do you think the two bring to the story?

Great question. The stepsisters are probably the most transparent characters. On the surface, their value in the story is as a cautionary tale about karma. However, when you consider how they’ve been spoiled as well as primed to be the source of their family’s next social climb, one can take away a lesson about parenting. Values and expectations shape children’s character. I think the entire show can be viewed as a discussion in shaping future generations.

What has been your favorite part about playing Florinda?

My favorite part about playing Florinda is the freedom to be over the top. That said, I’m also just really tickled by the contrast of personalities onstage vs. backstage. Taking Cinderella’s household for example: Lucinda literally shoves me aside onstage, but Jen is the most supportive fellow actor imaginable; Florinda’s “parents” could care less how about others’ feeling, but Norma and Badger check in consistently. Cinderella is as meek as a mouse but Jackie Collins can’t help but shine. These are the things I’ll remember from this experience.

Besides yourself, who is your favorite character?

It’s impossible to choose a favorite character but I’ll narrow it down to two: Jack and the old enchantress a.k.a. the Witch. Like many of the characters they set out with the purest intentions but get lost along the way – one for his ignorance and the other for her wisdom. Devon and Lola sing with such polar-opposite emotions that you can’t help but be entranced.

What are you most excited for the audience to see/experience?

The finales of both acts are such powerful moments when we fill the stage and you realize we are all telling the same story about chasing dreams and how life happens along the way. I’m proud to be part of this wonderful group of storytellers and sing together as an ensemble.

What do you think makes this production different and special?

From the beginning we’ve called the show Into the (Dark) Woods which means that everything from costumes to set to lighting has an edge to it. We’ve worked hard to keep sight of what makes the show a classic while finding places to add a new kind of magic.

Photo by Michael Presley Bobbitt

Name: Norma Berger
I play:  Cinderella’s Stepmother
My favorite show is: Wicked and Les Miserables
My favorite food is: Cheese
Something weird about me:  I was a kleptomaniac as a child, always stealing random things from friends’ houses. No, I do not still do that.

The Stepmother is one of the more cowardly characters in Into the Woods. Without giving too much away, she has a moment in Act II where she expresses her feelings about the imminent threat facing the cast. Do you understand her viewpoint? Sondheim makes a point to humanize all of these fairy-tale characters. How do you think he does this with the Stepmother? Do you think, in a way, she is a good mother to her daughters?

Stepmother is insecure about her status in life. She wants to be better than her birth, and wants that for her daughters, she spoiled them and raised them to be selfish, but she wants something better for them, even if her ways are misguided. She wants to protect them from harm, whatever way she can, and in Act II we see her soften a bit, especially towards them, but she is jealous of Cinderella and only begrudgingly changes her attitude toward her.

What is your favorite part of the show?

The Baker’s wife’s solo Moments in the Woods because, well, Laura.

Besides yourself, who is your favorite character?

Little Red! Emma makes her a feisty punky little shit but with a big heart.

What are you most excited for the audience to see/experience?

The emotional range in these characters.