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Into the Woods

a Musical
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA MUSICAL
by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine

COMPANY : Rosewater Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Rosewater Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 3797

SHOWING : September 10, 2010 - October 02, 2010

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

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.


CAST & CREW LIST
Lighting design Deryl Cape
Stage Manager Sue Shaw
Music Director Andy Danh
Stepsister Lauren Butterfield
Baker Jim Dailey
Rapunzel's Prince Brad Dickey
CInderella's Mother/Granny/Giant Marlissa Doss
Stepsister Andrea Fennell
Jack's Mother Eileen M Fulford
Cinderella Gretchen Rebecca Gordon
Rapunzel Dani Granati
Stepmother Cecilia Harrington
Baker's Wife Sara Holton
Jack Chris Ikner
Narrator/Mysterious Man Jerry Jobe
Witch Amy Lester
Milky White Travis Oates
Cinderellas Father Murray Sarkin
Steward Daniel Clay Sasser
Little Red Riding Hood Tina Shaw
Cinderella's Prince Tony Smithey
Set Designer G. Scott Riley
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Bosky Buskers
by playgoer
Sunday, September 19, 2010
4.0
The Rosewater Theatre's "Into the Woods" is a stunning visual treat. It quite literally leads the audience "Into the Woods" -- the playing space has been turned into a clearing in the forest, a bosky glen surrounded by skeletal trees and littered by pinestraw and twigs, with a raised platform in the center containing the remains of tree stumps. Even the railings in the audience area have been festooned with ivy. While the theatre-in-the-round is used as the playing area, this is not a production in the round; the far side of the seating area has been blocked off with a painted forest scene, and the tiny platforms in front of the drop are used for non-forest scenes (Jack's house and Cinderella's house and palace). High in the corners are the baker's shop, with Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother's house behind a scrim, and Rapunzel's towering tower. It's a stunning use of the space, and G. Scott Riley deserves high praise for his set design.

Costumes are also splendid (although I didn't much care for the baker's fringed leather jacket). Tony Smithey is given program credit for costume design, but biographies in the program indicate that some actors provided their own costumes. Travis Oates' cow costume as Milky White is particularly inventive. The royals in the company all have splendid outfits, and the meanest of the mean are also garbed appropriately. The costumes add to the visual treats the show supplies, as do the wigs some of the cast members wear.

"Into the Woods" is also blessed with fine performances. Tina Shaw invests Little Red Riding Hood with a comically blood-thirsty bent, making the very most of her character. Chris Ikner portrays a simple, gentle, resourceful boy-man in a believable way. Andrea Fennel and Lauren Butterfield play the scene-stealing wicked stepsisters with raucous delight, and they're nearly matched by Cecilia Harrington as their mother (although she could use some aging makeup to prevent her from looking like one of a set of triplets). The princes (Tony Smithey and Brad Dickey) add a supercilious air to the proceedings, while the baker and his wife (Jim Dailey and Sara Holton) add heart and chemistry to the story. For my money, though, Gretchen Gordon shone the brightest as a brunette Cinderella. She made every word and moment seem natural. The only performance I didn't care for was bya cast member who was not listed on the company's website, and who was listed under two different names in the program, which hints to me that he was a late cast replacement.

The voices of the cast are all good, but there's no one singing in such a splendid and pleasing manner that you're taken out of the play and into the realm of vocal concert. These are all character voices, not concert voices, and all work in the service of the overall production. The minimal choreography is much the same -- it doesn't draw too much attention to itself, and, given the treacherous footing on pinestraw and burlap, is restricted primarily to gestures. The gestures are most effective when the song "Into the Woods" is sung as a round (both physically and musically), with gestures and words blending in a happy frenzy.

The voices are accompanied by pre-recorded tracks. While the tracks sound fine in orchestral terms, they are often a tad slow. Except for Tony Smithey, the cast does a good job of tempering their natural instincts so that they can keep in sync with the music. It does add a tentative air to many of the numbers, though, since the actor cannot give full attention to expressing the song itself, but must simultaneously listen to gauge synchronization with the orchestral track. It also seemed to me that perhaps keys were lowered in the accompaniment, since most songs appeared to lie in the lower section of the actors' ranges. In many of the songs, I found myself wanting to twist a dial to speed it up and raise the key.

Technical elements also conspire to affect the pace adversely. There are three transformation scenes written into the musical: Cinderella getting into her ballgown, the witch turning from old crone to beautiful woman, and the mysterious man dying and coming back immmediately as the narrator. Cinderella ran offstage to put on the ballgown, and the final effect was seen only later, so this transformation not occurring onstage was no great loss. For the witch transformation, though, it appeared that doubling was occurring, which gave me great hopes that the transformation would be accomplished by a brief spin offstage, then an immediate spin back, with cloak flung off to reveal the ravishing witch. Instead, it was slow, with a disappointing smoke effect that didn't cover anything. It didn't help that Amy Lester's witch was entirely effective as an old crone, but only sometimes effective as a too-young beautiful witch. As for conversion from mysterious man to narrator, it was interminable. Add to that light cues that were often a half-beat late, and you have a show whose technical elements proved its downfall.

If these glitches can be remedied in the rest of the run, "Into the Woods" will be a true treat in all its elements. It's already a pleasure to experience. Just sitting in the auditorium, in a woodsy environment enhanced by cricket and bird sounds, you are transported to another place and another era. If the show can maintain that spell throughout the action, to the very end of the play, Roswell audiences are in for an unforgettable production. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
by LisaSR
Thanks for the great review. Many of the compliments were exactly what I was going for. I really appreciate it. I completely agree with your constructive criticism in regards to the transformations. I'm glad you put them as they were bothering me too and it made me fix them. :) As far as Cinderella's transformation, she goes off stage to change into her ballgown as that is in the script and was also in the original Broadway show.

As far as the music goes I believe it's in the right key but agree that it could be a tad faster. Unfortunately, I can't fix that now. I just wanted to thank you though for the wonderful review and comments. I hope you can come and see the show again before it closes.

Lisa

P.S. I take full responsibility for the Baker's fringed jacket.:) I costumed him, Poor Cinderella, the Poor Jack’s Mother, Cinderella's Father and Little Red.
"It's a very nice show!"
by Sondheim
Saturday, September 18, 2010
4.0
Year ago I had the delight of discovering the Rosewater Theater in Roswell through a gripping production of Sweeney Todd. If Sweeney was an interestingly illuminated in way I had not seen by Rosewater’s “in the round” staging, I thought what would it do for Into The Woods. Sound-scaping with forest noise added to the atmosphere and set the stage the journey to come. Entering the space walking across the floor that had been covered over with burlap and pine straw my mind began journey into realm that was at once fantastic and pragmatic in it’s presentation of the “careful what you wish for” aspects of everyday life.

As the Journey began there seemed to be distracting pauses in the prologue, some of which may have been due to scene changes. Many of theses pauses could be eliminated if the pace of the lighting cues were picked up. In either case the production would benefit tremendously if some the “dead air created” by these pauses were eliminated. As the show got into it’s stride there were so many magic moments, but the performers would ultimately have to work harder to recover the magic when met with these pauses. The good news is that as the show progressed there was more magic and less dead space, especially in the second act.

A really wonderful cast was headed Jim Dailey and Sara Holton as the Baker and his Wife, and their chemistry was great part of what the show so charming. Dailey seemed oddly cast to me at first, but as the show went on it became clearly that not only was a gifted comic actor, he also had heart. Ms. Holton was hands down my favorite performer, her performance of “Moments in the Woods” was truly amazing in how it captured why people make the decisions they do in life. The rest of the cast was also very good, but I especially enjoyed Gretchen Gordon as Cinderella, Tina Shaw as Little Red Riding Hood, and Chris Ikner as Jack.

If you have the chance to go see these wonderful performers I urge you to do so. Community theater is what keeps this art alive to a great extent and makes life our living. Thank Rosewater for a great production
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Thanks by LisaSR
Thanks for the great review. The distracting pauses and light cues have been worked on and picked up considerably. Appreciate the constructive criticism too. You are truly correct as they are a really wonderful cast with amazing chemistry. Thanks so much.

Lisa

Lisa


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