Toronto actor Alana Hibbert steps into the role of a witch in Talk is Free Theatre’s upcoming show Into the Woods. The Stephen Sondheim musical, book by James Lapine, is one of her favourites.
“I’m a big fan of his shows – as an actor, they are complex (and have) a lot of layers to get into and the music is challenging,” said Hibbert. “The story itself is pretty clever, how he is able to string all these well known fairy tale stories together into something that’s new and different. That’s really great as well.”
The story weaves together main characters from Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and Cinderella as they discover the price of ‘happily ever after’. It is tied together by a story of a baker and his wife who have been cursed by a witch in their desire to start a family.
While the musical has been produced many times in the past for the stage and film TIFT’s version is lightly staged with professional actors and a young company of local youth.
Hibbert, one of the show’s stars, has appeared in previous TIFT plays and musicals including Sunday in the Park with George and The Gamblers.
Her interest in theatre began when she was a child, growing up in a very musical family. Her mother was a music teacher in elementary school and her father was hobby musicians who played guitar in bands. Her parents would take her to see a lot of live music and theatre in the Vancouver area including large musicals such as Cats and Les Misérables.
“The first show I saw Oliver, Theatre under the Stars in Stanley Park where you line up, take a picnic,(it’s) general seating and I kind of became obsessed for a little while with the idea of kids like me at this age on stage,” she said. “It was fascinating to me and I was so jealous of the kids in the show and I thought why can’t I do that. I want to do that.”
She marked her first community theatre show, Joseph, while she was still in elementary school and participated in drama as an extra curricular activity in high school. She also sang in a lot of rock and girl bands as a teenager. After an undergrad in English and communication, she went to Canadian College of Performing Arts for two years.
Since then, she has performed in shows across Canada, including multiple seasons at the Shaw and Stratford Festivals. She moved to Toronto in 2004/5 to appear in Hair and stayed. When she has time she enjoys teaches acting too. But for fun, it’s sports – playing recreational basketball and she’s a big Raptors fan.
Into the Woods runs Nov. 14-16 at Georgian Theatre. For tickets, see www.tift.ca.