Can you hear it? There is a high degree of excitement coming from the George Mason University campus in Fairfax that promises to have a definite impact on the Mason theater program, the Mason students, the surrounding community, Virginia, theater, and the east coast.
Dennis M. Layendecker, Director, School of Music at George Mason University hopes that the production of Into the Woods, this historic event in Mason history, the first collaborated effort between the School of Music and Department of Theater in years, will lead to what will become “one of the great Musical Theater Programs on the east coast.”
This weekend, the “masterpiece” by Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine, Into the Woods, will open with a “fantastic” cast of 25 students and orchestra of 30. This collaboration could be the start of something big. II want to be there - will you?
Layendecker, who spent 26 years with the music program in the Air Force and logged over 6,000 productions, says this “ranks up there with some of the very best in terms of the impact of not only the music but the acting, the scenery, the whole production.”
He has nothing but praise for the students and their development over the seven-week rehearsal period and for the crew and production team. He says it is a “privilege”to be involved in this endeavor and is learning a great deal from Ken Elston, Chair Department of Theater, who is directing the production. Layendecker singled out his assistant Dr. Lisa Billingham for her “absolutely essential” work as vocal coach and calls her an “ally and friend."
“Lisa’s handiwork is going to be very clear in every one of the voices …on stage because she virtually coached them all,” he said.
He has nothing but praise for the professional team that has taught and worked with the cast to make better actors of the musicians and better musicians of the actors. He says he is honored to be a part of this experience and compares it with “my best moments in the Air Force.”
Can you hear it yet? I can tell you that I can and after talking with the two principal forces behind this effort to create a BA degree in Musical Theater, I am looking forward to seeing this production. As Dennis Layendecker says, “it’s a local surprise."
He expects people to walk away saying, "Wow! We had no idea” about the talent on and off stage or the messages of Into the Woods that are so “deeply moving and certainly worth both witnessing and carrying away.” This is something you shouldn’t miss! Get in on the ground floor and lend your support to this historic effort to create a new BA degree program at George Mason.
The production opens Friday evening and runs through Sunday at the George Mason University’s Center for the Arts. For tickets and more information call 888-945-2468 or visit cfa.gmu.edu.