Take an exciting journey through the dark twists of beloved fairytales in Musical at Richter’s Into the Woods. The Broadway smash written by Jame Lapin with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim opened this past weekend and will performing until July 1st.
The show begins with three intertwined fairy tales, focusing on the wishes of characters dreaming for a better life while overcoming adversity. Cinderella wishes to go to the king’s festival. She must overcome the efforts of her evil stepmother and stepsisters to prevent her from attending. Jack (of the Beanstalk fame) wishes not to sell his friend Milky White, a cow, despite the insistence of his mother. The baker and his wife desperately wish for a child but are cursed by their neighbor, a vindictive witch. The witch instructs the baker and his wife to obtain four items for a spell and in exchange she will break the curse. On their quest into the woods, they encounter Little Red and her legendary red cape. Little Red is subsequently confronted by two charming but ravenous wolves as she strays from the path. Traditionally, the scene is played by one wolf, however the additional wolf made an interesting change in the dynamic and staging of the song. The wolves later play Cinderella’s Prince and Rapunzel’s Prince. A team of Narrators perceptively guides us through the stories as they also take on supporting characters throughout the production.
Little Red expertly played by Tori Vacca, with her sweet and sassy interpretation of the role makes every moment she is on stage a delightful one. Sergio Mandujano as Cinderella’s Prince and Little Red’s wolf has a stunningly strong voice and a command of the stage that made you look even when he isn’t leaping halfway across it. The Baker’s Wife, played by Carey Van Hollen fully embodied the character. Her strong determination in seeking the necessary items to get her child almost makes you think that the ends do indeed justify the means. Will Armstrong gives a sincere performance as the puppeteer of Jack’s bovine friend, Milky White. The design by the incredibly talented props mistress, Victoria Meskill, evoked the seriousness of the show War Horse, with its wire framing, but was given a beautiful lighthearted air as Armstrong brought him to life. Tyler Carey as Jack was astounding in his performance of “Giants in the Sky” as he bounds between rotating platforms that are creatively designed to look like books. Betsy Simpson beautifully portrayed Cinderella as we see her transform from a submissive young girl into a determined heroine. Rounding out this talented cast are Tracey Marble, Nathan Mandracchia, Patrick Spaulding, Stephen Moores, Beth Bria Salvador, Natalie Harde, Emma Giorgio, Priscilla Squiers, Cassandra Bielmeier, Cathy Cavender, Brian Hinger, Juliana Koziol, Rob Mayette, Rachel Salvador and Daisy Stott.
Brad Blake direction and choreography the show, mixed traditional and new interpretations to create unique production with Music Direction by Dan Koch. The orchestra lead by Daniel Michael Koch included Anna Demasi, Sarah Tusch, Daniel Frankhuizen, Charles Casimiro, Kate Diaz, Jessica Pietrosanti, Jessica Stein and Bob Kogut.
The set design, by Jake McGuire, pulls you into the world of storybooks. The subtle change when entering the woods works perfectly with Richter’s outdoor theatre, giving you a sense of being immersed in the woods with the characters. The set works seamlessly with the lighting design also by Mr. McGuire, to create a pattern of light and shadows reminiscent of the woods at twilight. Things hide in the shadows, and pop out when you least expect it.
Don’t miss the final performances on June 23, 24, 25, 29, 30 & July 1 at the Richter Arts Center (next to the Richter Park Golf Course, I-84, Exit 2), 100 Aunt Hack Road, in Danbury. Tickets for “Into the Woods” on Friday, Saturday & Sundays are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students (with ID), and $10 for children 10 and under. For the additional Thursday performance on June 29, tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and students and $5 for children 10 and under. Tickets may be purchased through the Musicals at Richter website (www.musicalsatrichter.org) or at the door. Grounds open at 7:15 p.m. for picnicking, with curtain at 8:30 p.m.
Photo credit: David Henningsen Photography