While Disney’s new film adaptation of the hit musical Into The Woods is hitting most of the headlines these days, this particular one is coming courtesy of the stage version, namely the inaugural production of the DreamCatcher Theatre–led by brother and sister team Natalie and J.J. Caruncho–in Florida.
So what can be so newsworthy about a production that’s been around since the late 80s? In a unique twist, the DreamCather Theatre decided to give the role of The Witch in Into The Woods to a man, namely Tituss Burgess. This is a role that was originally created for Tony Award winner Bernadette Peters and is traditionally played by a woman (the role is played by Meryl Streep in the Disney adaptation). What’s more, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, the two creators of Into The Woods, gave their blessing, Natalie Caruncho told Playbill.
“We wrote a letter, through MTI, addressed to Mr. Sondheim and Mr. Lapine regarding Tituss playing the Witch and we were approved! It was a special moment for us.”
Of course, men taking on the role of women in plays isn’t anything new. Long ago, Shakespeare’s plays used to be performed by all-male casts, though we are several hundred years removed from that time. In today’s modern world, this is a huge step forward, and as Advocate writes, “This is a fairy tale come true for any little boy who grew up wishing, more than anything, that he could play the Witch in Into the Woods.”
So who is this Tituss Burgess, and what else has he done apart from this upcoming production of Into The Woods? Obviously, Burgess isn’t a household name, but you may recognize him as Angie Jordan’s flamboyant and hilarious hairdresser D’Fwan in the show 30 Rock. He’s also has a role in the upcoming Netflix original series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Burgess’ production of Into The Woods— directed by Justin Fortunato — will run from January 22 through February 15 at Miami’s Carnival Studio Theater. Tickets are $50 each, and can be purchased at www.arshtcenter.org.
Also of note, Steve Sondheim, one of the creators of Into The Woods, is the most produced composer of the 2014-2015 season, with 20 plays currently in production. Now doubt Into The Woods is having something of a resurgence thanks to Disney’s recent film, but the statistic is impressive, all the same.
So what are your thoughts? How do you feel about the iconic role of The Witch being taken on by a man? Let us know below!