In the midst of a birch tree forest, with the orchestra positioned at the back of the Colonial theater, in deBessonet’s minimalistic and concert-like rendition, “Into the Woods” captures a broad spectrum of tones and emotions, ranging from comedy to sorrow. In fact, that’s a rather accurate portrayal of Sondheim’s musical composition.
Unfading is its unique type of enchantment, not to forget the stellar 2014 movie adaptation, numerous high school or local theater performances of “Into the Woods” have taken place.
In “Sunday in the Park with George” (1984), George collaborated with James Lapine to compensate for and elevate the somewhat choppy book, also containing some of Sondheim’s songs which have his most piercing insights and deftest wordplay.
Everyone is pretty much searching or yearning for something when they arise and face a dilemma, but what do you think you can get or resolve? The “Woods” intertwines newly invented characters with classic fairy tale tales.
Moreover, incidentally, what measures are they intending to take regarding that unstoppable giant creature that is demolishing everything and everyone in its trajectory?
Act One of “Into the Woods” is filled with regular humor. However, in Act Two, the darkness – Sondheim’s familiar territory – begins to cast its presence over the woods more seriously. The number of casualties increases, and by the conclusion, almost every character remaining on stage has experienced the loss of a beloved individual. The relationships portrayed in “Into the Woods” are intricate and tension-filled, encompassing the dynamics between spouses, parents and children, as well as those between royalty and commoners.
Stephanie Block and her wife, Baker, desperately want to have a baby. They must go into the woods to find a pure gold slipper, yellow corn hair, red blood cape, and white milk cow. The Witch tells the couple the curse and instructs them to reverse it. The Witch has put a curse on them, but the Witch tells the couple to reverse the curse.
So the couple sets off on that strange shopping adventure. The forest ends up being quite crowded.
Although there’s nothing mechanical about the performances, it’s perhaps why the machine is well-oiled. In the touring production of “Into the Woods” that has arrived at the Colonial, nearly all of the actors have performed on Broadway at some point.
The Broadway-to-Boston roster, which consists of Glover, Arcelus, and Block, includes them. However, Block and Arcelus will not be performing from March 28 to April 2. During those performances, the roles of the Baker and the Baker’s Wife will be portrayed by Jason Forbach and Ximone Rose.
In Act Two, the solo “Last Midnight” is performed by Glover, who captivates the audience with her ominous and mesmerizing performance. Rapunzel, played by Alysia Velez, is the Witch’s daughter and has been confined in a tower for a long time, which is understandable but still heartbreaking. In the song “Witch’s Lament,” Glover sings about the bittersweet truth that children can only grow from something you love to something you ultimately lose.
Creel’s Prince captivates Cinderella, portrayed by Diane Phelan, and in “On the Steps of the Palace,” expresses the conflicting emotions present in “Into the Woods” (“I am aware of my choice/ which is to not make a choice”). Additionally, Katy Geraghty delivers a side-splitting performance as a commanding and bold Little Red Ridinghood. Joining from Broadway, Gavin Creel brings an exuberantly exaggerated portrayal as Cinderella’s dandyish Prince and also takes on the role of the menacing Wolf.
In this mystery, there is a Mysterious Man whose identity is unknown. I have never seen a more expressive puppet than Milky White, the puppet that Jack, a young and ingenuous boy, is devoted to. Jack manipulates Milky White skillfully, while Kanagawa Kennedy, the exceptionally talented puppeteer, sits beside him. We have no time to waste as we watch the cow wither away, asserting that they must sell her, as told by Mother’s favorite rhyme, one of Sondheim’s. Aymee Garcia plays the role of Jack’s Mother, who tells him that they must sell the cow.
In September, “Here We Are,” Sondheim’s long-developing musical inspired by the Luis Buñuel films “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” and “The Exterminating Angel,” will be showcased off-Broadway. Daniel Radcliffe of “Harry Potter” fame will take the lead role in a production of “Merrily We Roll Along” on Broadway later this year. Last month, previews began for a new Broadway presentation of “Sweeney Todd,” featuring Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford. Since the unparalleled composer-lyricist passed away in November 2021 at the age of 91, there has been a surge of Sondheim revivals.
But until that time, this rendition of “Into the Woods” will suffice pleasantly.