BWW Review: INTO THE WOODS at Mesa Encore Theatre

BWW Review: INTO THE WOODS at Mesa Encore Theatre
Photo: Social Profit Media

Mesa Encore Theatre (MET) kicked off its 2019/2020 "Season of Adventure" with a valiant production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's musical mash up of Grimm fairytales in INTO THE WOODS.

If you're unfamiliar, think "Little Red Riding Hood Meets Jack and the Beanstalks Meets Rapunzel Meets Cinderella" and you get the picture. MET's mix of sets, props and costumes may not be as lavish as some bigger budget productions, but the set design by Ben and Rita Liegl (she also directs) puts the "fun" in functional.

What MET truly lacks is adequate audio equipment - which 's Artistic Director David Chorley admits during his opening curtain speech. If you're a patron of the arts, you can help remedy this situation by making a donation.

As Cinderella, Karissa Anderson-Self appeared to be unmiced during the opening medley, but is well cast as the "little (gold) slipper girl" who radiates beneath Cheyenne Phillips' costumes.

After playing an Ugly Stepsister in California, Sara Bruton lands a larger role as Jack's Mom and lets her doctorate in voice performance from ASU shine. She is one of a handful who professionally juggles the Soundheim-Lapine lyrical/libretto mix.

Lindsay Decoste (The Baker's Wife) makes her debut at MET and is a wonderful addition to their talent pool which now includes Irma Gloria (The Witch), Tom Mangum (Wolf #1, Cinderella's Prince) and Joe Musil (Narrator, Mysterious Man).

Let's talk pacing. In 1989, most of the original Broadway cast reunited for a taping which later aired on PBS and ran two and a half hours, including the curtain call. In 2014, Disney's live-action motion picture version ran two hours and five minutes.

MET's production runs nearly three hours, so pack a lunch or hit the concessions at the Mesa Arts Center Nesbitt/Elliott Playhouse. (Word of GPS caution: Don't let technology route you to the black box/rehearsal space at 933 E. Main St. - unless you plan to see DARKSIDE opening Nov. 8.)

INTO THE WOODS closes Sept. 22. Tickets run $29 to $34 depending on your age and seat preference. Buy seats close to the stage and you can hear just about everyone.

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From This Author Lee Cooley