Into the Woods

Actors Taylor Rivera (left) and Ezra Noel (right) star in Prima Theatre's production of "Into the Woods."

It takes some finesse to bring a Broadway show to a more intimate stage — but with the help of a Broadway tour director, that's just what Prima Theatre will do.

Prima Theatre debuts its run of "Into the Woods" Friday, bringing with it an updated folk-pop sound.

Galia Backal, the current Broadway tour director of Tony award-winning musical "Six," is directing "Into the Woods."

(The Broadway tour of "Six" visits Hershey Theatre from June 13-18, though the tour stop and Backal's involvement with Prima are unrelated, Backal says).

"Into the Woods" is a Stephen Sondheim musical that integrates characters from many different Brothers Grimm fairy tales, drawing inspiration from tales like "Rapunzel," "Cinderella," "Jack and the Beanstalk," "Little Red Riding Hood" and more.

The musical debuted on Broadway in 1987 and stayed until 1989. It returned to Broadway briefly in 2002 and again in 2022.

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Backal has always loved "Into the Woods." For her, it’s a story that mirrors that of many immigrants.

"I'm a first-generation Mexican American, and the idea of coming to this country with these wishes and dreams, and needing to sacrifice and do everything for your children, for me, is the core of 'Into the Woods,'" Backal says.

Prima's rendition of "Into the Woods" will feel familiar, yet different for audiences. The music and settings are updated for a more modern audience, Backal says.

Instead of the more classical musical theater sound, Prima opted for a more modern soundtrack, incorporating inspiration from Sara Bareilles' performance in the Broadway production as the Baker's Wife, as well as other pop and folk influences.

Backal and Prima’s collaboration was pure serendipity.

The opportunity sprouted from mutual connections between Backal and executive artistic producer and co-founder Mitch Nugent, and blossomed after the pair realized they had similar goals.

"Galia had a strong vision. … She’s a rarity in Broadway leadership and our industry as a whole. I’m honored that she’s collaborating with us," Nugent says.

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It took some finagling to fit the production to Prima's stage — Nugent wasn't initially sure it was even possible.

"It took a few years to get convinced that there was both a means to do this production in our intimate theater, and that there was a voice for this production we could uniquely foster," Nugent says.

Prima’s size wasn't an issue for Backal. She has worked with large, sprawling stages fit for Broadway, as well as smaller regional theaters.

"A small theater really allows for the audience to engage in a way that a big theater doesn't," Backal says. "The audience is going with us into the woods, because they're right there. ... To act like they're not, it seems silly."

Backal says she was excited about the idea of bringing in actors that represented the Lancaster community at large, with diversity in race, gender and sexual identity.

That commitment of amplifying voices of underserved communities was one of the bonding points between Nugent and Backal, Nugent says.

"I was excited for Lancaster to experience this gorgeous musical with historically marginalized perspectives embedded into the cast and production team," Nugent says.

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