With 28 piece orchestra! I can't wait!Oregon Daily Courier Review
If this is on the wrong board, my apologies. Wednesday night I saw this production at the open air theatre in Ashland. This was the first professional production I have seen of Into The Woods, and I felt like it was very faithful to the OBC recording which I have listened to a lot. Big beautiful voices from all the cast, with standouts for me being Jennie Greenberry as Cinderella, Miles Fletcher as Jack - whose rendition of Giants in the Sky almost brought tears to my eyes it was so lovely, and Royer Bockus as Rapunzel. There were a few inventive moments, but it turned into a very satisfying and traditional performance. I don't know how many people here will see this production but if you are there may be SPOILERS ahead... Before the play began the cast was milling about onstage in street clothes and looked like possibly members of the orchestra (who were on stage) preparing. But then they set up music stands and as the Narrator began it seemed like it would be a concert staging, but during the course of the first number some cast members would go off and return with bits of costuming or some even right on stage would transform their street clothes into costume - as though disappearing into the world of the fairy tale, until it had completely taken them over. There wasn't really a full set, but the staging instead made use of the theatre's many levels with ladders and balconies and in one memorable moment a character descends fireman pole style. There were also a few moments of audience interaction/participation used for good comic effect, for example - SPOILER - the "fake" Milky White presented in the second act was an audience member chosen for his head of white hair. The most non-traditional element was the use of a deaf actor portraying the Wolf with the actor who also played Cinderella's Prince standing behind him singing the part (in street clothes, not his Prince costume). And oh yes - the Wolf was costumed as - SPOILER (I'd rather somebody b*tch that I have too many spoilers than not enough) - a member of the Duck Dynasty clan! I am one of those annoying people who speaks to the people seated around them, though when you travel people can immediately hear your accent and many warm up a bit. The folks I was seated beside had been attending the Oregon Shakespeare Festival since their childhoods and were familiar with much of the cast; Catherine Coulson who played both Cinderella's Stepmother AND Milky White - in an ingenious costume that transformed her instantly from one to the other - has been with the festival for 20 years. Their witch, Miriam A. Laube has been with the festival 10 years and is a big star there, and well worthy one! It was amusing watching the guy next to me during the first act - he didn't seen to be familiar with Into The Woods and he was asking his wife, "Who's that old lady? I thought that was supposed to be Miriam?" At intermission they got to reminiscing about all they had seen over the years and the many changes they had seen to the festival, and even how the theatre had once been just basically bleachers and not the grand structure it is now. It got the point that instead of me being the annoying guy interrupting them, I couldn't get them to shut up! I'm joking of course, I love to get people talking and listen to their stories. The temperature in Ashland has been about 100F the last few weeks (which I don't think I could take) but on Tuesday a storm blew through all of Oregon and cooled down temperatures. Wednesday in Ashland there were a few clouds that began to accumulate and grow darker as night fell. Winds blew and it began to spit a bit of rain on the audience. The winds climaxed during the second act while in the play the cast was lost in the woods and in a panic. It felt like nature was adding its own special effects at just the right moments. By 11 pm leaving the theatre at the end, the wind had died away and the sky had cleared. I wonder whether they will be able to replicate such a magical experience. Ashland is a very small town. Last night walking from my motel to see Comedy of Errors (another f@cking amazing production set in 20's Harlem with an African-American cast), I passed Javier Munoz who portrays the Baker on the sidewalk - you might remember him as Lin-Manuel Miranda's replacement in In The Heights - and spoke to him briefly, congratulating him on his amazing performance. It wasn't empty praise; for me his performance really put a button on the emotional depths of the piece as he contemplated how he would go about raising his now motherless child while Children Will Listen was being sung. I left the theatre with a greater appreciation for this musical than I had before. With the very fine company of actors they have I would love to see them take on A Little Night Music. I was casting it in my head as I walked back to my lodging. It won't be next year though as they have already announced the season and it includes the musicals Guys and Dolls and something called Head Over Heels featuring the music of The Go Go's. Yikes! Something more interesting might be an adaptation of Sarah Waters' novel Fingersmith as a play. I was looking at Javier Munoz's facebook page and he has up a nice gallery of images from this priduction.
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