Terry Gilliam and

Leah Hausman

Co-directors of Into The Woods

Rehearsal photography by Marc Brenner

Into The Woods opens in Bath this summer as the legendary Stephen Sondheim musical, with book by James Lapine, is presented by a world-class creative team led by iconic stage and film director Terry Gilliam (Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Brazil, Time Bandits, The Fisher King) and Leah Hausman, who has choreographed all over the world including at the Royal Opera House, Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. 

Into the Woods - Terry Gilliam (co-director) in rehearsal - Photo credit Marc Brenner.jpg

Rehearsal photography by Marc Brenner

Co-directors Terry Gilliam and Leah Hausman took a break from rehearsals to tell us what’s in store for audiences when the spectacular show is staged from 17th August to 10th September at the Theatre Royal Bath.

 

What drew you to Into The Woods? Is it a show you have always wanted to stage?

Terry Gilliam: 

Ever since I saw the production that Richard Jones did in 1990, yes. I was hoping to do something as good, and that was the hard part, trying to approach it with any confidence, because his production was just that good.

 

Leah Hausman:

Terry and I both had seen the London production, years ago, and we both thought it was absolutely brilliant. When John Berry approached us to do Into the Woods, we also both thought we could never find a way to do one that was better... but the draw of the piece was too strong for either of us to resist!

Into The Woods was first staged in 1986, it has since been performed across the globe and made into a film. What do you think is its enduring appeal?

 

Terry Gilliam: 

For me it’s about mixing a modern sensibility with a fairy tale that lets you play between those worlds, showing how they’re similar and how they contrast. 

Leah Hausman:

Aside from its genius lyrics, music and book, fairy tales are ever a draw for children and adults alike. They deal with our most basic human needs, desires, weaknesses and fears. But we always feel safe reading them, the ending is certain. The beauty of this piece is that it explores everything that comes after the happy ending.

 

You have previously collaborated and co-directed the operas Benvenuto Cellini and The Damnation of Faust. What is it about your partnership as co-directors that works so well?

 

Terry Gilliam:

Leah has taught me everything. I’m a complete novice in both opera and even more so in musicals, and she is experienced, brilliant, it's just a very good collaboration. Her skills and mine are not the same, we balance each other. 

 

Leah Hausman:

We both still laugh at someone slipping on a banana peel.

What can audiences expect from your staging of Into The Woods?

 

Terry Gilliam: 

Joy, horror, beauty, imagination - a full range of theatrical experience.

 

Leah Hausman: 

A delicious visual world, lots of unexpected turns and twists, and some knock out numbers.

 

Will this production stick faithfully to Sondheim’s famous score?

 

Terry Gilliam:

It’s very faithful. We don’t mess with the genius of it. 

 

Leah Hausman: 

Yes, we aren’t changing anything in the score. Of course, modifications need to be made for each new production. Some music is intended to cover scene changes, which we won't need, and there are other places where we've had to extend the music to accommodate our action. The piece is made so all of those adjustments are possible.

Into the Woods - Lauren Conroy and Nathanael Campbell in rehearsal - Photo credit Marc Bre

Rehearsal photography by Marc Brenner

Which is your favourite song from Into The Woods?

 

Terry Gilliam: 

All of them—we’ve just been staging ‘No One is Alone’, which is very beautiful. We’re staging it in a very surprising way. 

 

Leah Hausman: 

Whichever one we are working on. Seriously, every day I have a new one that's top of the list.

 

The world-class creative team for this production includes set designer Jon Bausor and costume designer Antony McDonald. Can you tell us about the set and costume design for Into The Woods?

 

Leah Hausman: 

That would be cheating. Everyone has to come and see. It’s very ambitious, but we hope it will be unexpected, beautiful, dark and very Terry!! Having said that, Jon and Anthony are amazing. So inventive and playful. We do a lot of brainstorming together about the space, the action and the characters, but it’s the designers who have to realise all our nutcake ideas.

 

Terry Gilliam: 

If you like Pollock’s Toy Theatres you will love this. 

You have assembled a supremely talented cast combining award-winning West End performers and up-and-coming actors. Have you worked with any of the company before? How excited are you by rehearsals with the cast so far?

 

Terry Gilliam:

I’d never worked with them, they’re the result of our very lengthy casting process and I think it’s an extraordinary cast, utterly extraordinary, everyone at every level is breath-taking. The look of the show is one thing, but it’s the cast that absolutely makes it. 

 

Leah Hausman: 

Aside from one actor in our movement group, the entire cast is new to me, and I to them. The auditions were a little more like a workshop so I had the chance to sense what everyone was like to work with. All I can say is, every day I thank my lucky stars to be working with this group.They are amazing. So diverse in every way, background, skills, experience, yet as a group they feel like they've been together for years. Everyone is helping everyone else. They have kept Terry and I going.

Plans have been underway for this production for a number of years. How much does it mean to finally be able to bring it to audiences this August?

 

Terry Gilliam:

It means I can finally get it out of my life and into everyone else’s.

 

Leah Hausman: 

Well, on the first read through I had covid, so watched via Zoom, and wept through most of the first act. The fact that we had finally made it into the rehearsal room seemed a miracle, and on top of that - the cast was SO GOOD.  I still can’t quite believe we are doing it.

What do you hope audiences who come to see the show in Bath will take away with them?

 

Terry Gilliam: 

Surprise, amazement, stunned admiration. (Laughs) I hope they have a good night out. 

 

Leah Hausman: 

It's a show that asks a lot of questions, and the answers are up for grabs so I hope everyone goes away thinking a little something different. But mainly I hope they've all had a great night at the theatre.

 

Into The Woods appears at the Theatre Royal Bath from Wednesday 17th August to Saturday 10th September. Tickets are on sale at the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 and online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk

Win

two tickets to see 'Into The Woods' at the Theatre Royal, Bath on Monday 22nd August at 7.30pm

Lauren Conroy who plays Little Red Riding Hood in Into The Woods Photo credit: Matt Crockett

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Lauren Conroy who plays Little Red Riding Hood in Into The Woods Photo credit: Matt Crockett