By Claire DeMarco, ‘Burgh Vivant
Origins of the phrase “Be careful what you wish you” are fuzzy at best but that phrase highlights the central theme of the musical comedy “Into the Woods”.
The characters are a mixed group garnered from various fairy tales (the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault). All wish for something.
The baker (David Steffes) and the Baker’s Wife (Julia Kreutzer) are childless and want a child. The Witch (Emily Cooper) who put a curse on the couple that made them childless is willing to remove that curse if they help her procure certain items that will turn her from a craggy, miserable, misshapen being into a svelte, youthful dynamo. Jack (Malcolm Buisch) is an immature adult who wants his cow to give milk, while Jack’s Mother (Josie O’Connell) prays that her son will finally grow up. Cinderella (Lucy Pratt) hopes that she can attend a festival with the royals. The Wolf (Dan Mayhak) is continually seeking a young thing to seduce. Little Red Riding Hood (Megan Knorr) hopes to visit her grandmother.
What really happened in the woods? Our characters ultimately got what they wished for but…
They weren’t able to come to terms with their lives after their wishes were granted.
Were they able to work together and solve a problem that affected them all? Sometimes you have to be able to see the forest through the trees.
The executed movements between the ensemble of actors and the orchestra were seamless, smooth and synchronized. The production of this dark comedy was fluid.
Cooper was superb as the Witch transitioning from a wizened hag to an alluring woman. Her comedic expressions and nuances were captivating as was her delivery of “Last Midnight”.
Mayhak played the narcissistic, silly Prince as the royal jerk with brilliant mannerisms, facial expressions and perfect timing.
There are wonderful performances by Steffes, O’Connell, Knorr, Kreutzer, Buisch and Pratt.
Costume Designer Kyle Huber provided excellent costumes.
Kudos to Director Niffer Clarke.
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine.
“Into the Woods” is a production of the University of Pittsburgh Stages. It runs from April 4 – 14, 2019 at the Charity Randall Theatre, 4301 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.
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