Theatre Department Casts Spell with ‘Into the Woods’
“Into the Woods” is not your average fairy tale. Of course, any production that bears the golden seal of Stephen Sondheim is not likely to be typical in any way.
A musical with an illustrious history, “Into the Woods” has been featured on numerous professional stages, from New York City, N.Y., to London, England. Now, for three weeks only, “Into the Woods” finds a new home on the University of Mary Washington’s Klein Theatre stage.
Deftly blending soaring vocals, sly humor and deeply affecting moments of pathos, this is not a show to miss. The first act opens, and the audience is introduced to an ensemble of familiar fairy tale stock characters, characters who may not be so familiar, after all.
Cinderella’s plaintive sing-song plea, “I wish!” sung by Chelsea Raitor, a junior theatre major minoring in musical theatre, sums up the entire act in a nutshell. Each character longs for something they do not have—a child, a friend, freedom and even revenge. As they go about looking to fulfill their desires, the characters sing, cross paths and eventually arrive at that elusive happily ever after.
But all is not what it appears. This fairy tale spends its’ second act examining what happens after the storybook closes for the night.
What results is a wonderful production of a highly ambitious musical. There are no loose ends; every last detail has been seen to. The performances are nuanced and have clearly been fine-tuned.
The actors also all have incredible chemistry when they interact with one another. A brief scene between Little Red, played by Bess Ten Eyck, a senior theatre major in the education program, and Jack, plyed by Nick McGovern, a junior theatre and business double major, does not last more than three minutes, but it is still one of the funniest moments of the show.
The Baker and the Baker’s Wife, played by Pietro Perrino, a senior physics major, and Anissa Felix, a senior and theatre major, relate to each other as though they’ve been married for years. The connection is palpable when they look at each other.
The singing is a high point of the show. The songs are all fast-paced and full of innuendos and clever references. There were no noticeable stumbles or mistakes, even when the time sped up to an impossibly fast speed. Each number pulses with genuine emotion. The acting does not stop when the dialogue does.
The technical aspects of the show deserve note as well. The set is stunning without distracting from the action that happens around it. The dark trees and vines of the woods set an appropriately mysterious tone.
The costumes are all quite different in style, but still mesh together effectively. The lights track the progress of the show:, when a character is in danger, they flash, when the action slows down, they glow softly.
“The show was so well done, there was so much attention to detail. You could tell that so much work went into it,” said Emily Burke, anaudience member and a sophomore theatre major. “It was just really sweet, and it really let you in on the personal moments.”
This production of “Into the Woods” is about as close as you can get to a Broadway spectacle in Fredericksburg. It is more than worth the price of the ticket and an excellent way to celebrate 100 years of theatre at UMW.