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The Curtain Closes on a Successful Spring Musical — and Dwight’s Theater Seniors

After the lights came up at the final performance of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, this year’s energetic, charming, and comedic Mainstage Spring Theater Production, the audience witnessed a tradition with a twist.

After the final show, it is tradition that each senior, for whom this Dwight production will be their last, says a few words. The twist this year — there were a dozen seniors who said goodbye — a larger number by far than in any recent years.

It was a fitting moment for a play whose themes delve often into the meaning of life, with seniors taking a moment to pause and reflect on what has been and what will be, and with underclassmen also looking to a bright future as they take on the mantle left by such a wide range of seniors. This, after successfully coming together to tackle Sondheim’s notoriously difficult play, in which musical number after musical number happens at a lightning-fast pace, with very little dialogue in between.

“I think as we got closer to the performances, it suddenly became clear how many seniors were in the cast,” said Mac Glason ’25, who played Rapunzel, ”We really had that energy of ‘we want to put on a good last show for them,’ and we started to work together more and I feel like it all came together. It’s like one big family — I have a fond memory of the work we did, and I’m very proud of it.”

Into the Woods is a twist on the favorite fairy tales of childhood, known by children and adults alike, but with a fresh take on what happens when they meet in odd and unexpected ways in the woods. Cinderella, Little Red, the Wolf, Jack and his beanstalk, the Witch, the Baker, and more, suddenly find themselves caught up in the midst of a slightly sinister adventure.

Says Terrence Christgau, who directed the play along with Colleen Durham, “This play doesn’t answer questions, it provokes more questions and ideally brings the audience to a state of wonder. In the best case scenario, Into the Woods doesn’t teach us things about wolves and witches so much as it teaches us things about ourselves.”

The audience was drawn in by the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim, book of James Lapine, and in the Mainstage Production, dynamic acting and singing, colorful and fun costumes, sparse but interesting props, and fantastic lighting and sound effects. Since February, the keen ensemble of actors, stage managers, and crew gathered together and put their heart and soul into this production to bring it fully to life, and highlight the themes of longing, revenge, fantasy versus reality, and, most of all, being careful about what you wish for.

“It’s a monumental piece of work we do every year,” said Mr. Christgau. “The cast goes through a long audition process, and some members of the crew start right away with the first rehearsals, stage managing, taking notes, learning about the flow of the props and the scenery. I think this is what creates the feeling of a family many students speak about. It creates a lasting bond.”

We won’t give away the complex and rich ending of the play, but we can say that the seniors’ time at Dwight came to a poignant end — with each stepping forward to expound upon, at times with tears, what it’s been like to be part of such an amazing community, how much they’ll be bolstered in their futures by what they’ve learned in the Theater Program and, more importantly, from whom they learned it — from one another, and from Mr. Christgau, Ms. Durham, and Musical Director Brandon Fillette, who was hired for the first time last year for the musical, Gypsy.

“It’s such a sadness to see all the seniors I’ve built such connections with over this show all go, all at once!” said Willem Kraaijeveld ’27, who played Jack. “But, I’m so excited to see what they do in the future, and I know I’m going to be in close contact with some of the seniors.”

As for the upperclassmen left to hold the mantle of theater high in the wake of such a large and glorious exit…

“The future is bright for everybody,” says Willem.

You can view the Into the Woods program here.

A full performance of Into the Woods can be viewed here.