Into the Woods
Theater West End, Sanford FL
Carl F. Gauze
Book by James Lapine
Music and Lyrics by Steven Sondheim
Starring Julian Bond, Quinn Roberts, Christine Brandt, and Marquise Hillman
Here’s a new one: this show got a late start because the lead actor was stuck on an airplane. That’s odd enough, and we didn’t start this massive musical until nearly 9 pm. But it was worth the wait, it’s a lively and cleverly staged extravaganza that’s always a challenge to produce. Sondheim and book writer Lapine mash up all the classic Grimm fairly tale characters into one epic production with witches, monsters and talking birds. The Baker and his wife (Roberts and Brandt) want a child, Rapunzel (Camry Chiriboga) wants out of her tower, Cinderella (Kate Stenzel) wants to go to the ball, Jack (Evan Alexander Jones) wants to keep his cow, and Little Red Riding Hood (Chiriboga) wants to visit Grandma (Chase Williams). This being a musical, its going to take more than a few dance numbers to wrap up all these loose ends.
It’s a monster of a show, but always well received. The rotating stage keeps the actors moving and adds plenty of action. The smoke effects can get out of hand, but that’s just atmosphere and keeps down the Covid. Robert’s Baker is sincere and the main adult in the show. His wife Brandt is completely focused on the reproductive problem at hand and the risks her hubby will embark upon. The there’s that witch (Marquise Hillman) who flits about dropping hints and magic and plot points and helps us keep the up to speed in this complicated and multi-role cast and keeps the props flying. And in a plot clearly layed out on graph paper, all the dreams and aspirations are fulfilled, except for Mr. Wolf (Ethan Lolley). Boohoo. The set is impressive even if the smoke is excessive, tall clocks are lit and attached to the wall up to the ceiling as cows and maiden’s hair ropes and magic beans float us up into the smoke above. Its complex, fun, and well sung. Well done!