Theatre UAB presents “Into the Woods” in a new way, April 12-16

Are we already in the woods? This production of Sondheim’s beloved play looks at the dangers society has created with sets inspired by Birmingham’s Sloss Furnaces.

Into the Woods StreamAre we already in the woods? This production of Sondheim’s beloved play looks at the dangers society has created with sets inspired by Birmingham’s Sloss Furnaces.Go “Into The Woods” with Theatre UAB from April 12-16, as an epic fairytale story about wishes, family and the choices we make hits the stage.

Using the stories of characters including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel, “Into the Woods” explores the ideas of happy endings, the consequences of getting what we wish for, the ramifications of generational trauma and the stories we teach our children.

Theatre UAB is the performance company of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Theatre.

Theatre UAB’s presentation of “Into the Woods” is in tribute to legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, who wrote the play’s music and lyrics. This production is inspired by the dangers and consequences of man’s own actions, with visual inspiration from Sloss Furnaces and an uncertain future for the environment.

Shows will be at 7:30 p.m. nightly April 12-15 and at 2 p.m. April 16, in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, Sirote Theatre, 1200 10th Ave. South. The play contains mature themes, and some material may be disturbing to young audiences.

Tickets are $15 and $20; students $6; UAB employees and senior citizens $10. To purchase tickets, visit or call 205-975-2787.  

The “Into the Woods” book is by James Lapine. The Theatre UAB production is directed by Valerie Accetta, with musical direction by Carolyn Violi. Students Gale Easten of Birmingham, Alabama, and Olivia Scott of Panama City, Florida, are assistant director and assistant music director.

Creating “Into the Woods” at UAB

When Sondheim died in late 2021, Theatre UAB was in the process of choosing plays for the 2022-2023 season. “Into the Woods” had been in consideration for several years, and this felt like the right time to honor such a titan of musical theater, Accetta says. The show has been taught in many ways at UAB, from songs and scenes in musical theater performance class, in musical theater history courses, and as a text in a class Accetta taught in the Honors College, called “What Makes a Musical: Memoirs, Muppets and More.”

Accetta says she thought she knew what her approach would be for this play, should she ever direct it.

“However, as I began to prepare for this production, I was struck by how we were still in the middle of a pandemic; the world was at war; we are experiencing the effects of climate change,” Accetta said. “And I realized that we are actually ‘in the woods.’ And in many ways, we brought these things on ourselves. So, how do we survive in the woods?”

As she started researching, Accetta looked through Sondheim’s collection of lyrics, “Look, I Made a Hat,” to read about his process on this show, and found that he had similar feelings. When writing about the Giant in the show, he mentions that the Giant could represent the consequences of human greed.

“At our first meeting, I told our scenic designer, Alan Schwanke, that I was considering the show through that lens, and he mentioned that he was recently inspired by Sloss Furnace, as it was one of the first places he visited when he moved to Birmingham this year,” she said.

The world of the show then began to take shape as they explored a man-made structure that can feel very dangerous — one in which these characters we know so well navigate their choices and begin to question even the structure itself.

Graduating senior highlights

The cast of “Into the Woods” features graduating seniors Morgan Tapp of St. Petersburg, Florida; Hannah Fulmore of Birmingham, Alabama; Cooper Ellis of Atlanta, Georgia; Jarrett Sparks of Hueytown, Alabama; Kara Anne Scullin of Cincinnati, Ohio; and Ryan Charest of Tampa, Florida. All will graduate with Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre degrees from UAB on Saturday, April 29, at Bartow Arena.  

Ellis took the reins as student co-director for Theatre UAB productions “Godspell” and “A New Brain.” Charest was assistant music director for “Godspell” and “The SpongeBob Musical.”

Tapp wowed at Red Mountain Theatre Company with her memorable performance playing violin in “Once” in 2022 and was part of the world premiere reading of Pulitzer Prize winner John Archibald’s debut play “Pink Clouds” at Red Mountain Theatre Company. Last summer, Scullen performed at Kings Island Amusement Park in Ohio. Scullen and Tapp are also in the Honors College’s Personalized Path.

Fulmore played Alice in the UAB Touring production “Alice in Wonderland” and originated the role of Summer in the new work “The Crossing,” which premiered with Red Mountain Theatre Company.