|Show: INTO THE WOODS
Music and Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
Book: James Lapine
|Location: Natural Talent Productions
Director: Raegan Kotz
Music Director: Harrison Ashley
Straight from Music Theatre International:
An ambivalent Cinderella? A blood-thirsty Little Red Ridinghood? A Prince Charming with a roving eye? A Witch…who raps? They’re all among the cockeyed characters in James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s fractured fairy tale. When a Baker and his Wife learn they’ve been cursed with childlessness by the Witch next door, they embark on a quest for the special objects required to break the spell, swindling, lying to and stealing from Cinderella, Little Red, Rapunzel and Jack (the one who climbed the beanstalk). Everyone’s wish is granted at the end of Act One, but the consequences of their actions return to haunt them later, with disastrous results. What begins a lively irreverent fantasy in the style of The Princess Bride becomes a moving lesson about community responsibility and the stories we tell our children.
Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods was Natural Talent Productions third show at the Arcada Theatre (the first two being Little Shop of Horrors and Jesus Christ SuperStar). With the intent of having a Junior version of the show in the mornings and the original production on afternoons and evenings over the course of the weekends… a bit overkill in my opinion but I can understand the intent for the most part. Me and my friends that went with me all kind of agreed that a more effective way of using both the original production and the junior version would be to have the junior version be the matinee shows and the original production be the evening shows all over the course of the weekend. Would seem to make the most sense, but I digress.
Let’s start with the set, I was pleasantly surprised with what they decided to do for set pieces when introducing the characters… rather ingenious in a way. I really liked seeing the curtains open and you see three life-sized books there that actually open up to reveal the actors in their individual scenes, very well done. When the books closed and were moved off to the side I was a bit put off kilter when I saw the set for the actual “woods”. Though using a video backdrop of the woods was one thing, and it flowed well with the individual trees in the foreground… two massive trees on either side of the stage seemed rather out of place until you realize their primary uses. The tree on stage right was where Milky White the Cow was primarily placed against while the tree on stage left was used to cover up the tower that Rapunzel stayed and later Jack and the Baker would perch while waiting for the giant.