‘Into the Woods’ runs through July 1
— Melissa Tippin plays Cinderella in Weathervane Playhouse’s production of “Into the Woods,” which is now appearing through July 1 and brings to life popular storybook characters.
I’m originally from a small town called Bryan, Ohio. It’s your typical farming town where everyone knows everyone’s business and you can’t go to Walmart without seeing at least eight people you know. Bryan is about an hour west of Toledo (yes, there are things west of Toledo) and it happens to be the home of the Dum-Dums sucker, which is always my “fun fact” when I introduce myself.
Growing up, both of my parents were teachers, which meant I didn’t get away with any shenanigans in school. My mom has a beautiful voice, so my sister and I grew up in a home filled with music. That, combined with my goofball dad, was pretty much the perfect recipe for a theatre nerd. I loved being on stage, but what’s more, I loved the camaraderie and family that came with each show. My first show was “The Sound of Music” as Gretl with a newly formed community theatre.
After high school, I studied music and business at Heidelberg University, where I continued to participate in theatre. After graduation, I wasn’t sure what was next for me. I talked to my voice teacher and mentor, Dr. Carol Dusdieker, and she suggested continuing my education by studying arts administration. So, after a year of living with my wonderful family, I packed up and moved to the Akron area to get my master’s degree from the University of Akron.
As part of the program, we are required to do an internship in the arts administration field. Since I’m not from the Akron area, I freaked out a little bit. I didn’t know where to apply, who to contact, or really what I was doing at all. Nevertheless, I asked around and researched quite a few local theatres, specifically theatres with educational programming. One of the first responses I got was from Lauren Sprowls, the education director at Weathervane Playhouse in Akron. We met, discussed the internship, and I started as the Education Intern at the beginning of the semester.
I cannot express how grateful I am for all of the awesome experiences I’ve had at Weathervane so far. Doing things such as planning events, developing curriculum, updating spreadsheets and checking students in before their classes, have armed me with the knowledge and confidence I’ll need to succeed in the arts administration field. All of the staff at Weathervane have been so warm, welcoming and patient as I learn about the day-to-day operations and tasks. One of my favorite experiences thus far, however, has nothing to do with my internship.
Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” is one of my all-time favorite shows, so when I heard Weathervane was producing it, I knew I had to audition. If you’re unfamiliar, “Into the Woods” is a musical based on classic Brothers Grimm fairy tales such as “Cinderella,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Rapunzel” and “Little Red Riding Hood.” In the first act, the characters in each story go into the woods to get their wish and interact with each other along the way, subsequently intertwining their story lines. The second act shows what happens after the “happily ever after” and the unraveling of a world based on wishes.
After switching my audition song three times, I nervously sang a 32-bar cut of “Soon” from Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” and then anxiously awaited the email. I was beyond thrilled to be cast as Cinderella. I was so excited to get back on stage, but also nervous about the new theatre community I was about to dive into.
After the first rehearsal, those nerves were out the window. Each member of the cast and crew has been so welcoming and encouraging. Seeing this show develop through each actor’s hard work on stage and the directing team’s vision has been so incredible and I feel so lucky to be even a small part of it.
Theatre is such a special medium. You get to interact with others in such a personal way onstage as well as behind the scenes. You could be screaming at someone in a scene and be laughing with them minutes later when you trip going off stage. The bonds created in the theatre community are stronger and more intense than almost any other bond I’ve ever had. With each show a family is created. I think Sondheim’s lyrics are very appropriate in this instance, “Just remember, someone is on your side. . . someone else is not. While we’re seeing our side, maybe we forgot: they are not alone. No one is alone.”
I’m so glad to have found my theatre family at Weathervane Playhouse.
“Into the Woods” appears at Weathervane’s Founders Theater through July 1. Show times are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets range from $10 to $26 and may be ordered by calling the box office at (330) 836-2626 or going to www.weathervaneplayhouse.com. Weathervane is located at 1301 Weathervane Lane, in the Merriman Valley. The Weathervane Playhouse production of Into the Woods is made possible by donations from SeibertKeck Insurance Partners and the Akron/Summit Convention and Visitor Bureau.