Reporting by Jonathan A. Martin
Last week, the 8th Grade Musical returned to the McAneny stage for the first time since 2019. With 7th Grade Dean and Theatre Teacher Jonathan A. Martin at the helm, students performed Into the Woods, Jr., a shortened and more family-friendly version of Stephen Sondheim’s classic Into the Woods. While the show may have been altered to appeal to a younger audience, its heart, wit and lyricism remained.
Martin explains that taking on the show for any age group would be difficult. He says, “Into the Woods is an extremely challenging show to produce. The music is difficult, the scenes are nuanced and it is a behemoth technically. But our students didn't flinch.”
Into the Woods, Jr. Program, front and back pages
Rising to meet the challenge of the show, the 8th graders took on more than just acting. Martin explains, “We had 8th graders in the cast, but we also had 8th graders run the entire tech crew (lights, sound, scenery, props, makeup, costumes) during the show. We also had students play in the orchestra, which is remarkable for a Stephen Sondheim score. Finally, we had 8th grade students design a website for the show and take headshots of the actors to go along with their bios.”
Into the Woods, Jr. Program, interior pages
Running just about an hour, the show was riveting and captivating from start to finish. Martin recalls how impressive the feat was, saying, “I was so pleased with how hard the students worked. They took ownership over the show and were so proud of their work. It was a tremendous achievement, and a wonderful return for musical theatre on our stage.”