Blair Theatre delivers yet another "Happily Ever After"
With a fabulous set of two casts, "Into the Woods" was a splendid journey for everyone in the audience as they relived their favorite fairy tales with a twist. With a dim of the lights, the narrator (Jules Allen/ Mars Moreno) set down their copy of "Grimm's Fairy Tales", rising from their plush armchair to begin the hilarious, touching tale of the night with "Once upon a time".
The musical opened with a prologue of three classic fairy tales in one: Cinderella (Elia Silbey/Natascha Levine Nitoh) wishing to attend the festival where she’ll meet her prince; Jack's mother (Arianna Ramirez/Sophie Bender) sending Jack (Ari Joshi/Carlos Castro Gomez) to sell their cow Milky White (Lilia Lash/Keelin Pegg); and Little Red Riding Hood (Lily Scheckner/Mackenzie Eccleston) buying bread from the Baker (Ben Rozner/Kieran Allan-Hadley) and his wife (Abi Torres/Rebecca Meek) on her way to visit her granny (Maggie Hellner/Reetika Bannerjee).
The independent storylines interwove into one central thread, as the Baker and his Wife ventured into the woods in search of four ingredients that could reverse a Witch's (Simone Kimelman-Block/Skye Sibrian) curse. The dedication the actors put into each and every character was obvious: the Witch's amazing physicality with a hunched back and high-pitched cackle terrified; Cinderella's commitment to tripping and nearly face-planting was admirable; the Wolf's (Uziel Gonzalez/Amy Turkson) jaunty prancing across the stage elicited laughs.
The pompousness of both Cinderella's Prince (Ryan McGaskey/Navek Leonard) and Rapunzel's Prince (John Ayala/Victor Coello) also garnered a chuckle almost every time they appeared on stage with their chests puffed high. A highlight of the night was their duet of "Agony," where the princes recounted the woes of being unable to attain their respective loves with beautiful harmonization and a rich tone.
Rapunzel (TongTong Ye/Margot Beuhler) and Cinderella’s soaring high notes wowed the audience throughout. Rapunzel’s introductory melody was strong and clear, establishing both actresses as talented vocalists, and Cinderella’s reflective solo songs provided a much-needed break from the chaos of the rest of the play.
The unexpected cameos of other Grimm's characters were also a delightful addition to the musical, with Hansel (Kate Gray) and Gretel (Charlotte Goldberg); Robin Hood's Merry Band (Mandy Garman, Katie Horvath-Wulf, Ben Kirby, Malaika Wande); and the three little pigs (Felix Hoffman, Marcella Verchinski, Milan Wilson). The addition of an ensemble not featured in the original show also added excitement to various dance breaks throughout the production.
The success of the show would not have been possible without everyone backstage who worked tirelessly to create the stunning scenery and gorgeous costumes. Whether it be Rapunzel's tower repurposed as Cinderella's mother's grave, the cobblestone steps or the detailed veins of the trees, the set design was immaculate. Character costumes were elaborate, especially Cinderella’s beautiful fairytale ballgown and Rapunzel’s towering golden wig. As a nice touch, stagehands medieval costumes of their own, suited to the musical.
Conducted by Katherine Smolen, a live pit orchestra set the atmosphere for each scene with their accompaniment of the cast's stunning vocals. The startling booms of the bass drum worked in tandem with the lighting to create an ominous undertone for the giant.
With the collaboration of the cast, stage crew, pit orchestra and Blair Theater’s sponsors, it was a night to remember. The entire cast gave it their all, and through their talent and professionalism, there's no doubt that Blair Theater's production of "Into the Woods" kept their audience wanting to stay in the woods until after dark.
"Into the Woods" has two more performances: 7:00 p.m. on Friday, April 28 and 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 29. Tickets can be bought here.
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