In the Wings: Chatting with Into The Woods Star Steven Pacek

Getting to know Philly's brightest theater talents.

Philly actor and 11th Hour Theatre Company co-founder Steve Pacek gabs about his killer pie-making skills, meeting Dolly Parton and the thoughtful trinket that foreshadowed his current performance as The Baker in Theatre Horizon’s Into the Woods.

My name is … Steven Michael Nicholas Pacek, or Pesos, Peter Paycheck, Esteban, or Sir Stevity for short. However, most people just call me Steve.

I am … About 5’8″, 160, brown hair, hazel eyes, bari-tenor … Oh, wait … I can be more than my resume?! Well, I am also a director, painter, thinker, writer, teacher, student, son, brother, nephew, uncle, boyfriend, animal lover, travel-enthusiast, Weather Channel addict and fun-loving Gemini who enjoys long walks on the beach.

What’s the Theatre Horizon take on Into the Woods? I think Theatre Horizon is doing all it can to celebrate storytelling, creativity and imagination with this production of Into the Woods. There are actors who play multiple characters. There are actors who play multiple instruments. And there is plenty of wood onstage, but its not necessarily trees. That sounds vaguely dirty, but you’ll have to come to the show to see what I mean.

Pacek and co-star Rachel Camp as The Baker and The Baker's Wife in Theatre Horizon's Into the Woods.

Pacek and co-star Rachel Camp as The Baker and The Baker’s Wife in Theatre Horizon’s Into the Woods.

You play The Baker in the show. Do you bake in real life? What’s your specialty? I do bake! And I’m definitely a pie guy. I’ve been known to bang out a mean banana cream and all kinds of fruit pies. But my speciality “du jour” is my take on one of my favorites from the The Little Pie Company in NYC: It’s a sour cream apple walnut with a streusel topping. And yes, I make my own crusts.

What do you do to get into character for Into the Woods? Besides just trying to make ends meet—as the Baker is constantly trying to do—I’m still running lines and lyrics because Sondheim is notorious for his use of words(!)

Did you see the Into the Woods movie? What’d you think? I saw the movie on Christmas Day while I was on holiday in London. I liked it. I think they did a lot of things really well and of course its awesome that Hollywood is once again embracing my favorite art form. But I do have to say, especially since I’m now playing the Baker, I really missed the Mysterious Man and the Baker’s song “No More.” I can’t imagine doing the stage version without them.

My first stage kiss was … As Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie in high school. But that doesn’t really count, because it was just a glorified peck. The first real kiss was in a scene from Prelude to a Kiss (how appropriate!) in college. Those rehearsals were very interesting.

The first play I was in was... We Like Sheep in 4th grade and I played … wait for it … a sheep.

You got a degree in Musical Theater in New York and eventually moved to L.A. What brought you back to Philly?  While I love spending time in NYC, I don’t love living there. And while I loved living in LA, I didn’t have dreams of being on TV or in film. So when I got my first acting job at the Arden back in 2002, I took the opportunity to really check out the theatre scene back home, and I was shocked how much I didn’t now about it. It took a couple years to make the move back home full-time, but that eventually had to happen once the company I helped start, 11th Hour Theatre Company, really started taking off.

My surprising celebrity crush is … Olaf from Frozen. He is a snowman after my own heart.

The most famous person I’ve ever met was … Dolly Parton. She was larger than life (in every way imaginable) and sweet as pie. We were seeing The Will Rogers Follies (she was too) and she took the time to talk to me and my friends at intermission, because it was our first Broadway musical.

When I win my first Tony, the first person I’ll thank is … Anyone who has ever taught me anything about anything … and my mom. She fits in that first category, too.

The best opening night gift I ever got was… (and I’m NOT making this up) a copy of the Into the Woods libretto! I was doing a kids show at a summer stock theatre and one of my friends in the cast got it for me. She knew it had been a dream show of mine forever. See, kids, dreams do come true.

What’s coming up next for you? The easier question to answer would be what isn’t coming up next. I’m already in rehearsals directing A Little Night Music at UArts, producing 11th Hour’s world premiere of Michael Ogborn’s Field Hockey Hot and performing in Broadway Playhouse at the Kaufman Center and Snapple Theater in NYC. Then it’s off for a summer at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York.

Into The Woods is showing at Theatre Horizon through March 1st. More information and tickets can be found here. See the trailer below.