Sure to sell out: "Into the Woods," Feb. 28-March 3, 14-18, Playhouse Theatre

– by Ellie Aungst

Come on out to Playhouse Theatre this spring for the exciting performance of Into The Woods coming March 14-18. Looking for more art and culture events this spring? read on.

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- Photo taken by Patrick Mansell

Into The Woods

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Book by James Lapine
Directed by Rick Lombardo
Music Directed by Harry Collins
Choreographed by Christopher Campbell

Does “Happily Ever After" really exist? A Baker and his wife, Cinderella, Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, and even the Witch all wish for something, but they must learn the responsibility that comes with getting what you want in this Tony Award-winning musical.

February 28–March 3, 14–18
Previews: Feb. 28, March 2
Opening Night: March 3
Evenings: March 14, 15, 16, 17, 18
Matinee: March 18

Playhouse Theatre
Evenings $25
Preview/Matinee $20.00
Student $12.50

Audio Description Performance March 18, Matinee; please call 814-865-5011 in advance.

Into the woods

From the Artistic Director's Desk

Welcome to the performance of one of the great musical theatre works of the late 20th Century, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s modern classic Into the Woods!

When Stephen Sondheim passed away at the end of 2021 an era of American Musical Theatre ended, and a giant left the stage leaving behind a very large footprint. The development of what we consider contemporary musical theatre would not have taken place without Sondheim’s lyrical and musical brilliance, and his impact is felt and heard regularly in the work of the generations of composers and lyricists who have followed in his footsteps. We knew that this season should include one of his shows to pay tribute to this legacy.

I first encountered Into the Woods by seeing the original production in 1987 on Broadway, and then having the opportunity to direct one of the first university productions of the show just two years later at Fordham University at Lincoln Center in New York. The show was still so new that the scripts and scores had large numbers of errors, wrong notes, and inconsistencies, and working on that first production required some serious decoding of the scripts and scores. There was so much material to digest! I later came to direct the show again in professional contexts, and I discovered something fascinating about it – while it generally remains the same, what it seems to be “about” adjusts and flexes seamlessly with the time.

The metaphor of the Giant—what she represents—our collective fears and anxieties, sudden loss and chaos, wanton destruction—can resonate in so many ways. Today, I come to this production with our current Giants firmly in mind: climate change, the pandemic, the specter of growing international war with nuclear undertones, millions of refugees displaced throughout the globe—all of these can credibly stand-in for the Giant in Act I. Yes, the show asks the question, “what happens after happily ever after”, but it really asks us to consider the ramifications of individual need versus collective action in the face of great need. In Act I all of the characters pursue their wishes wantonly, and with little concern for the impact of their choices on others. In Act II, these choices bring the Giant who poses a new scale of crisis, and one that resists individual solutions. These fairy tale characters need to learn a real-world lesson—the really important challenges we face require us to work in community with others, and for the greater good. It’s a lesson we seem to continue to need to learn over and over again throughout history.

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While I speak about collective action, let me give a huge “thanks” and shout-out to the multitude of folks who come together to make a production of this scale possible. It is community-based creation at its finest. From my creative team colleagues Music Director Harry Collins, Associate Director Zack Steele, and Choreographer Christopher Campbell, all graduate students, to the wonderful student designers, stage managers, dramaturg, technicians, and performers—this production is a remarkable example of student work across all of the degree programs in the School of Theatre. Thanks to all! And, as always, a very special thanks to all of our supporters and donors. In these days of financial uncertainty, these individuals help make this work and the education of these students possible.

Next on our stage will be the final production of our 2022-23 Centre Stage season, Emilia. Please join us for this funny, witty and important play exploring the life of the writer Emilia Bassano—maybe the inspiration for some of Shakespeare’s plays, maybe his “dark lady of the sonnets”, or maybe the author of some of his best ideas! Please join us for this brilliant new play.

If you enjoy the show, please share the good news on the following social media channels: Facebook: pennstatecentrestage and pennstatesot; Twitter: psutheatre; Instagram: psutheatre.

Thanks for joining us, and enjoy the show!

Rick Lombardo
Producing Artistic Director
Director, School of Theatre



by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm
Directed by Jenny Lamb

Writer. Wife. Lover. Mother. Muse. I am unheard. I want education, equality, opportunity, respect. For us all. We want choice. We want a voice

400 years ago Emilia Bassano wanted her voice to be heard. It wasn’t. Her story is still our story. Emilia and her sisters reach out to us across the centuries with passion, fury, laughter and song. Listen to them. Let them inspire and unite us. Times are finally changing. Not fast enough. It’s up to you. We are all Emilia. Stand up alongside her and be counted

Burn Bright: Women and Non-Binary Night, April 19; All seats $10
Sponsored by UPUA
The show, Emilia, signifies the importance of lifting up marginalized voices. The cast and story are centered around non-male people. Following the production, there will be a talkback with the cast and production team. Tickets on sale soon!

April 11–22
Previews: April 11, 13
Opening Night: April 14
Evenings: April 15, 19, 20, 21, 22
Matinee: April 22
Pavilion Theatre
Evenings $20
Preview/Matinee $18.50
Student $12.50

Audio Description Performance April 22, Matinee; please call 814-865-5011 in advance.

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Trouble navigating stairs?

If you have accessibility concerns with seating in the Pavilion or Playhouse, please note the following recommendations:

Playhouse Theatre - For mobility issues, it is recommended that you purchase rows B & C for the Playhouse. For wheelchair accessible seating, please purchase seats in the left or right rows A 1-5 or 2-6. Lower level access is available––please ask front of house staff for assistance, when you arrive at the theatre. You may call the box office 814-863-0255 or email with any accessible needs.

Pavilion Theatre - For mobility issues, it is recommended that you purchase East End tickets for the Pavilion Theatre. For wheelchair accessible seating, please purchase seats East End row A 1-5 or 2-6. Lower level access is available––please ask front of house staff for assistance, when you arrive at the theatre. You may call the box office 814-863-0255 or email with any accessible needs.

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