The Cheyenne Little Theatre is bringing its 2016-2017 season to a close with Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical Into the Woods, directed by Emelie Borello. There are six performances still to go – this Friday through Sunday and next Friday through Sunday (12-14 May, 19-21 May, 2017).2017 was a popular year for community theatres to perform Into the Woods, as the musical is celebrating its 30th year of making its debut on Broadway.
The story features the intertwining of the lives of several characters – Cinderella who wishes to go to the festival, the Baker and his Wife who wish to have a child, Little Red Riding Hood who needs food to take to Grandmother’s House, and Jack whose mother wishes him to go sell their cow so they can have food to eat.
The driving force behind the story is the wicked and ugly Witch, who has a cottage next door to the Baker and his Wife. Years ago, Jack’s father had crept into the Witch’s garden to steal greens for his pregnant wife who was craving them (as well as a few Beans). The Witch catches him and demands as punishment the child that his wife will bear. Jack is surprised to learn that they hadn’t died in a baking accident as he’d always thought – his mother dies of grief and his father has simply run away from his responsibilities. The Witch doesn’t realize that Jack’s father has also taken the magic beans, and when she lets him go, she is cursed by her mother for not protecting the beans, and is turned into an ugly crone.
The Witch visits the Baker’s cottage and tells him that they will always be barren unless he goes into the woods to fetch four items she needs for a certain potion – a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair the color of corn and a slipper as pure as gold.
The Baker sets out to find the items, ordering his wife to stay home. “The spell is on my house, only I can lift the spell!” His wife follows him, however, knowing he will need help. Also into the woods go Cinderella to ask for help from her mother’s grave. Also traipsing through the woods for the next three midnights will be the princely brothers, one in search of Cinderella, the other in quest of Rapunzel in her tall tower – the child the Witch had taken from Jack’s mother.
The Wicked Witch’s role is showy and drives the show, and Savannah Tipton delivers her lines with gusto.
Presumably due to budget or time constrictions, she isn’t made up as a crone, but instead wears a cronish mask for the first act. This may be the same reason why the Wolf is not played by Cinderella’s Prince (as is usually the case) but rather by a different actor, whose costume is simply a wolf vest, leaving his face visible.
Jack, usually a teenager, is here cast as a young boy. Jacob Frazier as Jack does a good job, although he sings in a register that I felt was too high for him.
A final bit of questionable staging was the use of electronic modulation for the voice of the Female Giant. It’s made so deep that it doesn’t sound like a woman at all, and as a result kind of dulls the pathos of the Female Giant’s pain – having befriended the young Jack who in turn steals from her, and kills her husband!
CLTPs Into the Woods is a fun and enjoyable production, delivered at a fast pace.
Cinderella’s Prince (Marshall Brown) and Rapunzel’s Prince (Liam Guille) perform their “Agony” duos well. Justin Batson as the Baker was in fine voice, as were Maria Thompson as his wife, Katie Delicath as Cinderella and Katherine Reidl as Rapunzel. Ava Sutton had fun as Little Red Riding Hood.
Other members of the cast who also delivered their lines well – getting all the laughs out of the script! – were Ken Reidl as the Narrator/Mysterious Man, Julia Van Dyke as Jack’s Mother, Nancy Stange as Granny, Dana Yarger as the Steward, and Lillah Grund, Victoria Cline and Sarah Sutton as the Stepmother and Stepsisters.