Stephen Sondheim’s brilliant Tony Award-winning score “Into the Woods” is well-served by Home Made Theater’s brilliant production. With gorgeous voices, excellent production values and fine direction by JJ Buechner, this show is a must-see.
‘Into the Woods’
WHERE: Home Made Theater, Spa Little Theater, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs
WHEN: through Oct. 26
HOW MUCH: $27-$24
MORE INFO: 587-4427
The book by James Lapine takes the audience into a very adult sendup of several familiar fairy tales, including “Cinderella” (Molly McGrath), “Jack and the Beanstalk” (Nick Gatzendorfer), “Rapunzel” (Barbara Miner), and “Little Red Riding Hood” (Haley Beauregard).
The story examines the traditional Puritan question of what it means to “go into the woods,” a primordial environment where the unpredictability of nature rules. This is timeless material that carries each character into a journey of self-discovery. But if that sounds too terribly academic, the fact is the play is so much fun that one might be tempted to forget the deeper meanings of the story and simply have a good time — and, believe me, if you go, you will have a good time.
Dave Dixon plays the Narrator, who drolly recounts the “Grimm” details of each fairy tale (you may recall that Cinderella’s wicked stepsister cut off her own toe so the glass slipper might fit her and that Little Red Riding Hood and her Granny were actually eaten by the wolf and later cut out of his stomach by the Hunter).
Cinderella is first seen at the grave of her mother, played by the ever reliable Robin Leary. McGrath’s beauty and clear-as-a-bell soprano tones make this character touching and true. Jack is seen as reluctant to sell his cow and friend, “Milky White,” for grocery money. Gatzendorfer gives Jack the right amount of dash and rebelliousness.
Rapunzel is portrayed as a child abused by her mother, the witch, gorgeously played by Dawn Oesch. Her second-act number, “Last Midnight,” which she performs with Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, is a bluesy, sexy show-stopper. Haley Beauregard is memorable as the impish moppet, Little Red Riding Hood, menaced by the — in this case — salacious wolf, Ashley Simms, who doubles as Cinderella’s romantic — if promiscuous — prince.
Tying all these stories together are the Baker (Marc Andrzejewski) and his wife (Shannon Ann Piegaro). They are the solid substance of the show and each gives a remarkable performance. Piegaro, after being seduced by Cinderella’s prince, has an absolutely lovely moment in her number, “Moments in the Woods,” which pulls the show’s themes together. And Andrzejewski is superbly moving as he attempts to deal with the death of his wife at the hands of an angry female giant.
Costumes by Dianne O’Neill Filer are stupendous and as picture-book perfect as one could hope for. Lighting choices by designer Lori Dawson are sometimes questionable, as they create appalling shadows that may or may not serve the show. But that is a small quibble considering the enormous entertainment the price of a ticket will provide.