‘Into the Woods’ Review
Happiness, Heartbreak, Humor Come Out of ‘Into the Woods’
Published: Monday, November 19, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 19, 2012 12:11
Concordia College Theatre put the breath of life into the fairy tale characters everyone knows and loves in its recent production of “Into the Woods.” Literally a storybook through song, this charming musical had something new around every turn. The cast shined throughout the three-hour performance, enthralling and entertaining the whole way. In essence, “Into the Woods” was a delight, plain and simple.
The backbone of this production was the cast, and watching them was a real treat. While some were not as likable as others, a few of them were simply lovable. The baker (Jason Bell) and his wife (Hannah Wehlage) were the plucky protagonists who one could not help but admire.
Childless and cursed by a wickedly funny witch (Collette Hagen, a real gem), the courageous couple sets off over Act One to collect four items the witch has asked of them to lift the curse of “a barren family tree.” Their search leads them to meet other fairy tale favorites who have all entered the woods at night for various reasons.
Jack (of beanstalk glory) is on his way to market to sell his milk-white cow, which happens to be one of the items the witch has requested of the humble bakers. Red Riding Hood (Tiffany Sieu) runs across the path of the pair on her way to Granny’s, her cape coveted by the couple as well. A golden slipper from the elusive Cinderella (Devan Luth) is also required of the baker and his wife, as is hair (“gold as the corn!”).
Besides the bakery couple and the people they pursue, a few others of fairy tale fame factor in as well. Cinderella’s parents, stepmother, and stepsisters all add to the plot, as do the two brother princes in search of Cinderella and Rapunzel.
By the end of Act One, the baker and his wife have met the witch’s demands and have their child, while everyone else is happy as well. The princes have caught up with the pearly-voiced princesses, and the witch is transformed to her youthful self (the powerful Liz Rahn) upon combining the items gathered by the bakers. All is well at the end of the first act…or is it?
As it turns out, the witch has been rendered powerless from her transformation, and the pair of princes are as narcissistic as they are womanizing. Jack has angered the wife of the giant he slayed, and she now roams the land, yearning for revenge. One by one, characters meet their respective ends, and it was hard to not feel a blow from losing them.
The only character whose death was well-received was that of the flamboyant and superfluous narrator (Jonathan Wells). In all honesty, this was a character that should have been done away with when the baker killed Red Riding Hood’s wolf early on in Act One.
On the other hand, the death of the baker’s wife was hard to take. She was an adorable character who was easy to love. That all went downhill after she stuck it to Cinderella’s prince behind a boulder in the scene before her death. This just simply was not believable; the baker’s wife loved the baker and only the baker. She would not throw all that away for a moment of pleasure in a rock pile with a prissy prince! This was the one and only disappointment of this performance.
That aside, the plot and performance were simply gorgeous. The story was sad and spritely at times, and fortunately came full circle in the end. The songs sparkled as well, thanks to the voices singing them. Our fairy tale friends solved some of their problems and learned to live with the ones left over, something unlike the storybooks and more like real life. Congratulations to Concordia College Theatre; this fairy tale performance was a dream come true.
“Into the Woods” ran at Concordia College Theatre from Nov. 8 to 11 and 14 to 16. A fund for victims of Hurricane Sandy took place after the show, where the theatre agreed to match $1,000 in donations.