Penn State’s Musical Theatre production of INTO THE WOODS, is a fairytale piece which strings classic characters such as Cinderella, Rapunzel, The Witch and others together, and forms a web. Each character has something they want and are in search of. The first act is for the most part, happy but then the second act is dark. The music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim are brilliant because he justifies each characters wants and needs. Due to their heightened anxiety or wish, their reason to sing is justified.
Lauren Moore portrayed Little Red and played the part young and foolish at first but then strong and determined later on. A perfect blend. Ted Christopher who played the Narrator/Mysterious Man was witty, playful and jolly. He made the audience laugh and was a nice comic relief. The Baker played by Sam Seferian and The Baker’s Wife played by Emma Stratton were a perfect duo. They acted as a team and had easy chemistry on stage. Emma has a silky tone to her voice which is captivating. I also admire that when she is in a scene where she is in the background, she is always in character and present. She does not distract from the primary actors, she is merely doing her job and doing it well. Kevin Toniazzo-Naughton who played the Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince has a deep, rich voice. The audience ate up his humor.
The Witch played by Carrie A. Johnson was writhing all over during her first song. She was thrusting and it was very odd. By the second act, when her body language calmed down, I enjoyed her performance more. The other unusual choice was the “baby” made out of a flour sack. Many people gasped, laughed or cringed when they first saw it. It looked alien. It is understandable that the idea was for the “baby” to look like it was part of a bakery but it just didn’t work. What did work was the beautifully crafted set designed by Damien Charkiewicz. There was a main stage, the floor space and two side platforms. Watching a play take place all around you is incredible. Since the space was small, it was very intimate and exciting.
I’m a hard sell for projections in shows but I thought the one’s used for INTO THE WOODS were superb. Also, the orchestra led by Dan Riddle sounded top notch. Penn State’s School of Theatre puts on incredible shows and this one was another victory. Bravo! More information here: https://theatre.psu.edu/
Rating: To Be