In the original theatre production of, Into the Woods, I pinpointed critical acting techniques that I honestly didn’t think I would find in those specific instances. What I mean by this is that being familiar with the Into the Woods production I know that outlandish characters like The Witch or even Little Red Riding Hood, have distinct characteristics. These characteristics would most likely catch the audience’s eye first. Not to say that they didn’t catch my attention; they most definitely did! However, the two characters that really stood out to me in terms of unique acting techniques would be Jack’s Mother and The Baker. What I really loved about watching these two is that their character choices–both verbal and physical–created genuine moments on the stage. They knew who their characters were, and kept that same energy up for the entirety of the show.
When I first saw Jack’s Mother on stage, I immediately saw things in her body language, her voice, and her overall performance that embodied the character that she created. Her character was the very opposite of relaxed (probably due to having a son who isn’t very bright), as she always has wide eyes and crazy hair. Although the crazy hair may not have been the actor’s choice, It is clear that she used the costume to further understand and create her own interpretation of the character.
Her character had a very hurried and jumpy demeanor overall; from the way she walked on and off stage, to her wild body gestures. A specific example I’m talking about when I say this was when she ran on stage looking for her son. With her arms flailing crazily in the air she ran to The Baker’s Wife and described the way her son looked. I remember specifically she motioned to her own hair in a quick and crazy fashion while trying to describe her son’s hair.
One more of the major distinctions of Jack’s mother was the way she sang. The example I’m referencing is when she decides to send jack off to sell the cow in hopes of making some money. What I noticed about her singing during this scene, is that–while still sounding melodic–her breathing is quite jagged. This was one of my favorite little details in her craft. In my opinion, the jagged breathing indicates her crazy and jumpy persona. The beautiful singing continues to tell the story; it meshed together perfectly.
Next, The Baker also showcased things that gave me an understanding of who his character is right from the beginning. The way he stands conveys timidness, as he stands with his knees slightly bent and inward with a wide stance. Also, he always has his shoulders slightly up, which makes him look like he feels out of place. He kept this physical center constant throughout the entire production. One of my favorite parts where I saw this physical center was when he was trying to stop Jack from giving him more money. He was happy at the same time and did a little victory dance. His knees were still bent and he kept a widened stance.
One other thing is that his voice is a little nasally at times when he sings. And there are hints of timidness in his voice as well. What I noticed is that it depends on the situation he’s in. One of the only times he had strong undertones to his voice was when he was singing with his wife about how they were changing. However, one thing that never changes about his voice is that he is sort of talk-singing. It still sounds strong and confident though. From this scene, you could see that he was also going through a major character arc of no longer being an overly timid and somewhat dorky individual.
Thus, both of these actors complemented the show as a whole simply by their character choices.