by Lorie Lewis Ham
The summer theatre season has started off with a bang with Into the Woods on stage at the Selma Arts Center until June 27.Into the Woods is a Sondheim musical featuring several familiar fairytale characters. The musical intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairytales, exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. This plot has a definite dark side in Act Two, unlike Disney versions of the fairytales. The story focuses a lot on The Baker and his wife who desperately want a child. The Witch tells them she will lift the curse she put on the Baker’s family that prevents them from having children if they find certain items for her. As we follow their quest, we also meet Jack from Jack in the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood on her way to visit Grandma, Rapunzel, and Cinderella as she goes to the ball and runs from her prince. We also meet Cinderella and Rapunzel’s princes as they try to find a way to be with their loves. Other characters include the Wolf, Jack’s mother, Red’s Grandma, the cow, the prince’s steward, the Narrator, and Cinderella’s stepfamily, mother, and father.
Into the Woods is a fun mix of comedy and drama with a very dark edge in the end. There is also a strong message of being careful what you wish for. The musical is filled with a lot of fun and beautiful songs, including the one that will stick in your head long after you leave, the title song “Into the Woods.”
Cinderella is played with a fun touch of humor by Alina Gonzalez, who has a lovely voice. Red Riding Hood has a bit of a tough edge to her, and is played wonderfully by Malia Hoff–she is one of my favorite characters in this show. The Princes, played by Devan Bolding and Jordan Laemmlem, are a riot, and another favorite of mine. Their song “Agony” is not only very funny, but beautifully sung. As the over dramatic princes, they provide a lot of the biggest laughs in this show. Samantha Gagliardi has moments of brilliance as the witch–in the first part of the show she has a hideous mask on which makes her a little harder to understand, but she does well despite that and her first song “Stay With Me” is sweet and sad. Once the mask is gone, her performance takes your breath away when she sings “Last Midnight.”
If you love fairytales with a darker twist, a nice touch of comedy, and some beautiful and fun songs, don’t miss Into the Woods in Selma. The cast and crew have done a good job of putting together this difficult show. Nicolette Anderson and Juan Guzman take on the very difficult task of not only directing the show, but also playing the Baker and his Wife .
However, be aware that while it is a story filled with fairytales, the dark nature of the second act makes it not an appropriate show for young children, but definitely a fun show for everyone else!
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