Hospitality major plays witch in Count Basie Theatre production of “Into the Woods”

Keiser in character

Above: Victoria Keiser, a hospitality major at FDU’s Florham Campus, plays the witch in a recent Phoenix Productions revival of “Into the Woods” at Count Basie Theatre. (Photo courtesy of Phoenix Productions)

By Dan Landau

October 2, 2017 — Florham Campus senior Victoria Keiser enjoys keeping her feet in the worlds of both hospitality and theater. By day, she is a hospitality major who works for Hilton and by night, she performs in professional and community theater productions. In her latest role, she played the witch in Into the Woods, a revival by Phoenix Productions at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, N.J.

Into the Woods, a musical by Stephen Sondheim, weaves together the plots of several different fairytales, including “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Cinderella,” among others.

“The witch is one of those roles where you know you’re going to grow as an actor. It’s a very vocally demanding role and it’s also challenging because she’s the evil villain, but she’s also the most logical person in character in the show,” says Keiser.

“I was so excited to be in this play because it’s by Sondheim. He’s a genius and I haven’t been in one of his plays before. The witch is the role I wanted also. [Actress] Bernadette Peters originated the role and she’s such an inspiration of mine, so any way to sort of fit into her shoes is great,” continues Keiser.

Keiser’s background in theater dates back to her childhood. “Phoenix Productions is my home theater,” she says. “I’ve been working with them since I was 14 years old.” She transferred to FDU after completing an associate degree in musical theater at Brookdale Community College.

“I began as a music theater major hoping to get a stronger background in it, but after doing a Disney college program in Orlando, Florida, I realized that I liked the hospitality industry. I picked FDU because it has such a prestigious hospitality program. I like that I can get the best of both worlds by studying and working in hospitality while also still doing theater,” she says.

Thinking about the future, Keiser wants to build a career in hospitality. “Everywhere you go, hospitality is there — it’s a very broad industry so there are a lot of opportunities. I would love to eventually be a catering sales director for a large hotel company.”