Leon Potter is crossing an item off his bucket list.
Next year the Vancouver Island University theatre professor is producing a presentation of the 1986 Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods, a first for VIU.
The musical weaves together the plots of a number of fairy tales and unites characters including Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk. Open auditions are being held at Malaspina Theatre on Jan. 14 from 3 to 7 p.m. and Jan. 15 from 6 to 9 p.m. The production is scheduled to hit the stage in March.
“I’m a huge fan of Sondheim. Stephen Sondheim is quite brilliant in that he will take a subject and make you look at it from a different angle,” Potter said.
“At the end of Act 1 you have this huge musical number that says, ‘Happily ever after,’ and then you start to wonder, ‘Well, what happens in Act 2?’ And I think that’s where the whole storyline comes from. It’s, ‘What happens after happily ever after?'”
Potter said opening auditions to students and non-students alike is consistent with the university’s goals of community building, engagement and outreach. He said the added competition also pushes his drama students to perform.
“It gives our actors a little bit more of a challenge because you don’t know who you’re going to be auditioning against,” he said.
“There could be people from the community, or people who are graduated or people who are exceptional singers who suddenly show up, which is great and it makes [the students] work a little bit harder and gives them a little bit more of a taste of reality that way.”
Potter added that school often enlists the help of professional designers and directors for its productions, further offering students a taste of real-world experience. VIU’s Into the Woods will be directed by Kismet Theatre Academy’s Tamara McCarthy, while local musician Dean Boland serves as musical director.
For those hoping for a successful audition, Potter’s advice is simple: “Come prepared.”
Those seeking more information or to book an audition can do so by contacting Leon Potter via e-mail at Leon.Potter@viu.ca.