by Christy Rodriguez de Conte
Music is magical. It can transport us across time and space. A familiar note and phrase ring out, and suddenly you are slowly dancing under a stream of lights and suspended cardboard stars in a smelly gym, seconds away from your first kiss.
Music connects people and places of different cultures and histories. Now, give music a stage and the possibilities are endless.
Wanderlust: Theatre on Location, a company focused on storytelling, stands on the edge of the possibility of using musical theater to illuminate the communities and identities of Tallahassee.
Wanderlust is taking its upcoming production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” to the sprawling oak and fairy-tale setting of the Lichgate Conservancy off High Road, “illuminating a forgotten piece of Tallahassee history.”
The magic and connection of musical theater have filled the life of Wanderlust’s founder and Artistic Director Laura Hope-London since an early age. With a theater mother, whom Hope-London lovingly says was a stage mom in the best sense, and a jazz musician as a father, her creativity and love for musicals were always fostered.
“My mom was a really big influence on my love for musical theatre. My mom actually grew up doing community theater as a kid and kind of got bit by the bug. She introduced me to all the old MGM Hollywood musicals. At 4 years old I remember acting out the dream ballet from ‘Oklahoma’,” Hope-London said. “I grew up in New Jersey, so we’d go see shows all the time.”
Hope-London admits she finds humor in the idea of a 4-year-old obsessed with “Carousel” or “Oklahoma,” but attributes it to the beautiful sweeping score — Rodgers and Hammerstein has that effect. Although it can be argued that musical theater hinges on the spectacular, Hope-London reminds us of the power of intimacy in music and storytelling and that it all begins with the voice.
“The human voice is an intimate instrument. It’s something we can all relate to because we all have a voice, and most of us grew up with a voice. It is our mode of access to the world. There is something about telling stories through the extension of speech, through song, that resonates.”
It is a common belief that artists are just born artistic but any successful artistic project blossoms from hard work and dedication to artistic growth. Hope-London is currently a candidate at Florida State University’s Theatre Studies program and an Assistant Professor of Directing in the Theatre Department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Read the rest of the article on the Tallahassee Democrat.
Purchase tickets for Into the Woods here.