by Terrance Mc Arthur
What happens after the fairytale is over? What happens after the slipper fits, after the wolf is dead, after the giant falls off the beanstalk? The Stephen Sondheim songs and the James Lapine script of Into the Woods try to answer those questions in the Good Company Players production at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theatre through September 16.
A baker (Teddy Maldonado) and his wife (Emily Pessano) want a child, Cinderella (Dorie Sanders) wants to dance with a prince, Rapunzel (Mallory Parker) wants out of her tower, Little Red Riding Hood (Jessica Peters) wants to get to Grandma’s house, and Jack (Connor Pofahl) wants to get his cow back. The witch (Sara Price) can grant the baker’s wish if he gets things from the other characters.
Maldonado and Pessano have the smoothness of a married couple in their interactions and their bickering. Emily’s voice soars across the dinner theatre. She wheedles the other characters out of their most important belongings, yet she is bamboozled and seduced by Cinderella’s smarmy Prince Charming (Grannis). Teddy’s Nathan Lane-ish mannerisms are ingratiating, but the surprise inside is a voice that can wrap itself around the Sondheim music and find the heart in the art.
Grannis and Shawn Williams team up as the Wolf/Wolves, which creates some interesting he-just-exited-over-there-and-how-did-he-get-here moments of delight. This back-and-forth adds to the bewilderment of Little Red Riding Hood (Jessica Peters), who is chipper and perky. Williams is earnest as Rapunzel’s Prince, who turns out to be as rotten at the core as his royal buddy.
Sanders is oh-so-naïve as Cinderella, earning the help of projected birds to earn her trip to the ball. Mallory Parker is an equally-naïve Rapunzel, and she works well with the repulsive Witch (Sara Price) who begins the play as a patchwork of makeup appliances. She’s sarcastic, impatient, and just as needy as the other fairytale characters.
I have to mention Lauren Carter as Milky White, Jack’s cow. Some productions have a cutout animal on rollers, but this Milky White reacts, has expressive body language, and probably deserves gift cards for massage and chiropractic treatment. The costume even looks bony around the ribs; Ginger Kay Lewis-Reed strikes again, with amazing costumes that build a real fantasy world, including some oh-yeah, that’s-what-the-Brothers-Grimm-and-Charles-Perrault-said-happened realizations, because this ain’t the Disney version, friend.
Chris Hoffman and Ben Applegate make two really-ugly stepsisters, hamming it up unmercifully. Speaking of ham, three Pigs (Charles Rabb, Nicole Wagoner, Coral Smith) are lurking among the trees of David Pierce’s forest design, moving trunks and set pieces. Rabb also follows the Prince following Cinderella as his Steward.
The vocals are first-rate all around, coached by Laurie Bridges, and Julie Lucido spins her cast through and around the theatre, which means there could be a Prince behind you. The show plays at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater, 1226 N. Wishon, in Fresno. Tickets can be purchased on their website or by calling the box office at (559) 266-9494.
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