Quote of the Day: These characters are like all inhabitants of the natural world: They want to live and to live well…like the subterranean root system of the trees themselves, they are driven by desire. Sarna Lapine, director for the Guthrie Theater’s production of Into the Woods, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine.
Most people are familiar with the fairy tales that are represented in this musical: Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Rapunzel. We see their stories played out in Act I where they also interact in the woods, their stories intertwined. So, when Act I ends, you think, “Wait, isn’t it over? Aren’t we at the happily ever after part?” Yes, and no. Act II explores what happens after the magical meetings and spells. It’s about the consequences and realities of life.
The cast and crew of Into the Woods casts a spell that delights the audience. Director Sarna Lapine did a wonderful job of bringing out the humor, making these characters relatable and interesting, as well as the more thought-provoking themes. The costumes, by Valérie Thérèse Bart, are spectacular. They’re colorful and vibrant, artfully representing each character. Some actors have quick costume changes, one on stage, and they’re expertly coordinated so no one misses a beat.
On stage orchestra, lead by Denise Prosek, is so skilled you almost forget how difficult Sondheim’s music can be. They also provide sound effects and give a sense of being part of the forest mysticism. They are, indeed, back amongst the trees in this gorgeous set, designed by Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams. Lighting design by Donald Holder and Sound by Beth Lake.
This is truly an ensemble cast, with everyone having their moment, or two or three. They all express the complex emotions of the characters, both as storybook visions, and real life responses. The singing is extraordinary. Regina Marie Williams is the narrator, so expressive and engaging, gathering us in like children at Storytime.
Lisa Howard is wickedly wonderful as the Witch. You think of the dark witches as evil and selfish, but not always. In moments of truth, we see that the Witch also has longings and wants to protect young Rapunzel. Anna Hashizume is absolutely charming as Rapunzel, her voice delightful to hear as she hits those sweet notes. Emily Tyra plays Cinderella, the other princess. She is captivating in this role, showing that she has her own mind. Cinderella’s step-mother (Kym Chambers Otto) and step-sisters (Cat Brindisi, Olivia Wilusz) are hilarious. Their costumes alone bring a smile to your face! Max Wojtanowicz plays Cinderella’s Father and the Steward with charm and wit.
Trevor James is a sweet and energetic Jack. John Yi plays his cow, Milky White, with such wide-eyed innocence and humor, biking around on the stage behind Jack. Then, suddenly, he’s off stage and returns as Cinderella’s Prince in the next scene. Smooth and charming, indeed! Kim Kivens also doubles parts as Jack’s mother and Granny, funny and engaging. Sasha Andreev plays the other Prince (Rapunzel’s rescuer) and the sly Wolf. So fun to see, and hear, him in both these roles!
Suzie Juul is delightful as Little Red Riding Hood. She gives her sass and moxie. Little Red won’t be taken advantage of for very long. She may stray from the path, but she’ll find her way back, or make a new path. I loved this character and Juul’s portrayal of her. Robert Knight is wonderful as the Baker, his voice is smooth as butter. Madeline Trumble plays the Baker’s Wife with so much sympathy. I felt drawn to her character.
And, bonus, we get to hear the incredible voice of Greta Oglesby as the Giant! Here’s where the sound effects and acting really shine. I felt the presence of this looming Giant, seeking revenge. The entire production is fascinating, making the 2 hour 45 minute performance fly by!
You can see this captivating production of Into the Woods at the Guthrie Theater through August 13, 2023. Experience this moment of magic for yourself!
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: Do you feel a connection to any stories or fairy tales? Have you ever imagined a continuation, or part two?