Why You Should Venture ‘Into the Woods’ With Pittsburgh’s Beloved Sally Wiggin
The Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera presents James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s classic twisted fairytale musical at the Benedum Center June 27-July 2.
Pittsburgh’s beloved personality Sally Wiggin says she hasn’t always been a fan of her voice, but admits it has opened many doors for her.
Wiggin says a friend associated with the production asked if she would be interested in portraying the Giant.
“They probably asked me because I have a deep voice, which I hate sometimes, but it served me well as a broadcast journalist,” she adds.
Wiggin is excited to see the show, which is based around James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s Brothers Grimm-inspired twisted musical comedy.
She says she caught parts of the 2014 film starring Chris Pine, Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp and Emily Blunt on television, but has never seen the entire production.
“This will be a treat and extremely entertaining,” she says. “I am delighted to be part of it and to see it on stage. Of course, I’m not sure I will like hearing myself as an overbearing giant, but I think some of my former colleagues might think it’s fitting!”
A former college swim coach and competitive swimmer, Wiggin stands at 5-feet, 6-inches tall.
“I have never been giant size,” she quips. “Trust me, I’ve shrunk! What I like to call the squishy things between your vertebrae shrink, and your foot arches become flatter as you age. I’ve lost about an inch of height in the last few years.”
Wiggin wishes she had been taller, but can now claim she has reached audiences in a larger-than-life role — even if it’s just her voice theatergoers will hear during the show.
“Into the Woods” shines a light on familiar fairytale characters and their journey to maturing, accepting responsibility, morality and the consequences of wish fulfillment. The production follows Cinderella (Kyla Stone) who wishes to go to the King’s Festival; Little Red Riding Hood (Jordan Tyson) who wishes to visit her grandmother; The Baker (Broadway veteran and Pittsburgh native Manu Narayan) and The Baker’s Wife (Patti Murin) who wish to have a child; Jack (CLO Academy alum and Disney+ star Joe Serafini) who wishes his cow and best friend, Milky-White (Lu Zielinski) would produce milk; and the neighborhood witch (three-time Tony nominee Carolee Carmello).
Serafini, star of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and a Bethel Park native, is also excited to join the cast of this star-studded production.
This week’s show will mark his return to the Benedum stage and his second portrayal of Jack. He also performed as Jack during a CLO Academy production of “Into the Woods” a decade ago.
He tells the Post-Gazette: “To now get to play it in this setting as an adult and with this amazing cast, it’s a dream come true and feels like I’m fulfilling my inner child in a way.”
Narayan tells the PG he is proud to be a person of color leading this talented cast and hopes to deliver a captivating enough performance that will continue to bring persons of color to leading roles in the Pittsburgh region and beyond.
As for Wiggin, she is perfectly fine with never appearing on the stage for this production.
“I was once in ‘Moulin Rouge,’ and I had to walk across the stage and sit at a table. I was supposed to stand up quickly at one point and when I did, the bustle on my dress knocked the chair over and it had such a booming sound. I was so embarrassed, I wanted to crawl under the table. There’s no chance that’s going to happen here!”
Though Wiggin spent her career in front of television cameras, she likens the fear of acting in front of an audience to that of interviewing high profile figures such as Ted Koppel of “Nightline.”
“When they were asking me to speak, I was very stiff and I could tell I was stiff. I was so nervous! It’s like when I was interviewing Ted Koppel. I was terrified! He has such an amazing steel trap mind. I would liken that kind of fear to being on stage.”
The cast of this twisted tale won’t disappoint Pittsburgh audiences, that’s for sure. Get your tickets here.