Interview: Stephanie Collins, Actor (Into The Woods)

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Stephanie Collins will perform as The Baker’s Wife in Redcliffe Musical Theatre’s upcoming production of Into The Woods. Stephanie has previously performed in numerous shows including Miss Saigon, Legally Blonde, Phantom of the Opera, and Cinderella. She has also played Sandy in Grease, Cosette in Les Miserables‘ and her life’s dream, Belle in Beauty and the Beast.

How would you describe Into The Woods? What would you say this musical is about, and how is this production different from the original?

Into the Woods is a pretty revolutionary musical in itself. Sondheim always seems to do a great job of challenging stereotypes and assumptions. I personally think this is his greatest ever creation. While it lives in a fantasy world, it challenges some very real ideas, which include things like what makes a person good or bad and what are these concepts in reality? We can all be very judgemental of people in circumstances that we have never found ourselves in, but what would we do in that moment ourselves? One of the most complex and important answers he seems to come to is that in the end you have to judge what is right for yourself, the rules will never always apply.

Stephanie Collins (R) as the Baker’s Wife with Christopher Batkin as the Baker. Image credit: Ben McShea of BEAK Photographics

You’re playing the character of The Baker’s Wife – can you tell me a bit about her? What has the process of embodying that character been like for you?

The Baker’s Wife is one of the most beloved characters in musical theatre. She represents a lot of people who crave conflicting things in their lives. Safety but adventure, stability but passion. For me, embodying a character is always about finding them in yourself. How can you relate? I can especially relate to wanting things that are not good for you! It’s one of the most endearing things about her.

What has the rehearsal process and preparation for this show been like?

Very quick! To learn a Sondheim from start to finish, in two months, especially one that is as musically complex and irregular as Into the Woods is pretty ambitious! We have an amazing creative team and Elodie [Boal] our director has been really amazing in inviting collaboration from the cast, it makes the show belong to us all and us belong to it. Essentially; we hunkered down!

Stephanie Collins (far right) as The Baker’s Wife, with Christopher Batkin as The Baker and Jennifer B Ashley as the Witch. Image credit: Ben McShea of BEAK Photographics

What has been the most challenging part of your involvement with this show? What has been the most rewarding, or your favourite part?

I would definitely say it’s a “love in the time of cholera” situation! Or “art in the age of COVID”! There have been times when we have had to move to online rehearsals due to COVID, blocking was done by sharing screens and plotting reference points on a diagram of the stage. Being apart when we had such a short rehearsal period was probably the greatest challenge, as bonding as a cast is probably one of the most important ingredients in the spell of live theatre. Somehow though, we’ve ended up possibly even closer. I’ve loved being part of the ideas and working with the cast to create sets, music and sincere moments of joy and sadness. Hopefully that love comes through for the audience.

Do you have a favourite moment, line, or song from the show?

My favourite moment is probably towards the end, during the song “No One is Alone”. It’s just…spellbinding, and very pertinent, especially in the current climate. We are humans. We need each other. My favourite line is probably “it justifies the beans!”.

Image credit: Ben McShea of BEAK Photographics

Who do you think would enjoy this show? Who should come along and see it?

Anyone with a sense of humour or irony! Life is full of that and, true to form, this musical is art reflecting life. Good people do bad things, bad people do good things, and what the hell are good and bad anyway? Following the rules will only take you so far, eventually you have to decide for yourself. If you’ve ever had a moment where you felt you didn’t know what the right thing was, the show is for you. 

Anything else you’d like to add?

A lot of people don’t realise that theatre nurtures the community. Inclusivity is a major part of the landscape of community theatre, it’s often a place where people go to feel safe, to express who they are, and to find love and friendship. By supporting your local theatre you are actually supporting an entire infrastructure of human connectedness and acceptance. If you’re looking for a community, find your local theatre group. No one is alone.

Into the Woods is playing at Theatre 102, Redcliffe, from 17 February – 5 March 2022

For ticketing and further information, visit Redcliffe Musical Theatre’s website

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