"Into The Woods" mixes fairy tale characters from different stories. (Back row, l to r) Jack (Jake Estabrook), Cinderella's Stepmother (Stephanie Burke), Cinderella's Prince (Jesse Seward), Cinderella (Treather Gassman); (front row, from left) Baker's Wife (Jennifer Kish), Baker (Aaron Duclos), Witch (Taffy McCarthy). Photo by Ralph Stewart
When Little Red Riding Hood skips off to visit her granny singing, "For all I know she's already dead," the audience knows they are in for more than your run-of-the-mill musical. With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Lapine, "Into The Woods" demands much of both the cast and the audience. The Island Theatre Workshop seems up to the task with strong voices, good acting, and a respectable production of this difficult musical. The show is directed by Lee Fierro with musical direction by Linda Berg.
The Witch (Taffy McCarthy) tries to convince Rapunzel (Victoria Campbell) to stay in the tower where she will be safe from humans. Rapunzel doesn't listen.
So many themes whirl by in this musical that it is hard to pin it down to even a few. But seeing this show during a time of war gives it an entirely new dimension. The Baker wonders who will pass on the story to the next generation and, more importantly, how will the story be told. How will history judge their actions as they prepare to kill the giant? Is it right? Is it wrong? The audience is left with these larger questions wrapped up in simple fairy tales.
Preparing for the festival are (from left) Cinderella's Stepmother (Stephanie Burke), Florinda (Sharon Strimling Florio), and Lucinda (Jane Lawson).
The Baker, played by Aaron Duclos, started out Sunday evening's show with a bit of uncertainty, but soon was flying high. This character is central to the plot and Mr. Duclos understands the material. His songs were delivered with more conviction as his confidence in his performance grew. He was a pleasure to watch and the audience wants the Baker to succeed.
Little Red Riding Hood (Katie Clarke) meets a wolf (Jesse Seward) in the forest. He sings, "Hello, Little Girl" and leads her from the path.
Strong performances were turned in by Jesse Seward and Kevin Ryan as the two princes, and Mr. Seward was also the Wolf; Jennifer Kish as the loving Baker's wife who pays the ultimate price for her moment in the woods; John Ortman as the Narrator and the Mysterious Man; and Jake Estabrook as Jack of Jack-in-the-Beanstalk fame, along with Joyce Maxner, Jack's long-suffering mother.
"Into The Woods," continues May 31, June 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 10, at 7:30 pm; June 3, at 1 pm, at the Katharine Cornell Theatre, Spring St., Vineyard Haven. Tickets are $20 for adults and seniors; $15 for children. Call 508-627-3166.