One University of Montevallo student is going above and beyond in his involvement in the newest mainstage production. Junior Barrington McQueen has been chosen to perform in and choreograph the fairy tale themed musical “Into the Woods.”
McQueen has been dancing for six years, but his training is centered around ballet.
“I noticed there were some disconnects in between kind of, like, my style of choreography and kind of transferring the background that I have grown up with into something for a musical—because not everybody in a musical has ballet training,” said McQueen.
His first experience choreographing for UM started with the Purple side show his freshman year. McQueen said he primarily choreographed during his sophomore year as well.
Last spring, McQueen met with David Callaghan, chair of the theatre department and director of “Into the Woods.” Callaghan offered the opportunity to choreograph this musical to McQueen, who accepted excitedly.
“We thought this show would provide a good opportunity for a student choreographer. I knew he had a strong background in dance and was interested in learning more about choreography,” said Callaghan.
While McQueen has experience in choreographing for shows, he said he was very shocked when he was offered the opportunity.
“I just wasn’t expecting it because I didn’t feel like, personally, that the choreography that I have put on stage in past productions here have been the best for musical theatre styles,” he said.
After getting through the shock of the offer, McQueen said yes and has brought in many different dance styles to the show. This includes virginia reel, ballet, jig and folk.
“I think my favorite part of the process has been learning what works on the stage and what doesn’t and how much that informs other things. There is so much that can be lost if a director or a choreographer or any member of the production team are not completely together or are not setting up scenes in a way that everything can be focused on the audience,” said McQueen.
Choreographing the musical numbers is not the only job McQueen has in this show. He also plays the character Mysterious Man. This character is similar in a lot of ways to his past role as Lead Player in the 2011 UM production of “Pippin.”
“They are both manipulative,” said McQueen. “They both have to guide other people to get what they want. I remember the urgency that came from Leading Player—that informs me of what I am doing as Mysterious Man.”
While McQueen enjoys choreographing for musical productions, he said he longs to return to the stage as a performer.
“I miss just being a performer a lot, and it’s not something that I love enough to give up performing for right now. I feel like I don’t necessarily have all of the tools that I need right now as a young choreographer learning to choreograph things,” said McQueen. “This experience has been very eye opening for me in that aspect.”
McQueen said he has enjoyed his experience with “Into the Woods” thus far and has learned a lot about how to work with and trust many different people. He said he will continue choreographing if the urge comes to him, but his main passion is acting.
To learn more about “Into the Woods,” contact the UM Theatre Department. The performance days are Nov. 7-9 and 14-16 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 17 at 2 p.m.