BWW Review: INTO THE WOODS Will Enchant You in a Whole New Way
If you think you've seen Into The Woods too many times, allow Performance Now's current production to change your mind.
Directed and choreographed by Kelly Van Oosbree, the 11-actor cast is not what you'd expect if you're familiar with the classic Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine show. Cleverly crafted to use the ensemble in a whole new way, there are creative surprises around every corner.
Rapunzel's Prince is also Milky White, and the Mysterious Man is Cinderella's Stepmother too. Jack doubles as the Steward, and his mother is stepsister Florinda. This means the actors sometimes have mere seconds to flip a costume and character, and it's executed like a well-oiled machine.
The cast features Chris Boeckx (Baker), Miranda Byers, (Little Red Riding Hood), Isabella Duran (Florina/Jack's Mother), Lindsey Falduto (The Witch), Melanie Horton (Baker's Wife), Matt LaFontaine (Jack/Steward), Carlolyn Lohr (Cinderella/Granny), Adam Luhrs (Rapunzel's Prince/Milky White), Leiney Rigg (Lucinda/Giant), Jeremy Rill (Cinderella's Prince/Wolf), and Brian Trampler (Mysterious Man/Stepmother).
I could go on for paragraphs about what an outstanding job this cast does, but you really should just see them yourself. The vocals are Broadway quality, and their comedic timing gave new life to jokes I'd never laughed at before (or even noticed could be there).
Each actor gets their shot at narration, too, which adds to the troupe style of the piece. The minimalistic set design by Rob Prytherch adds a touch of whimsy, as the actors utilize props like ladders and choreographed umbrellas to create enchanting scenic work. Costumed by Cindy Franke, the imaginative designs inventively provide the troupe with just enough detail to define a character.
Undoubtedly one of the most complicated scores in the musical theatre canon, the orchestrations are pared down to just a piano, some woodwinds and a string quartet...and they're center stage. The actors assist with percussion, as they remain on stage for much of the production.
It's been so long since I've sat at a musical, leaning forward in my seat with a goofy grin, totally entranced by the magic on stage. While I hadn't planned on seeing Into The Woods again for quite some time, Performance Now's production gave me a new zest for the piece. Now I want to see it again and again...but only if it's performed as ingeniously as this one.
Performance Now's Into The Woods plays the Lakewood Cultural Center through Jan. 21. Tickets and information are available at PerformanceNow.org.
Photos by RDG Photography