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EMAV Review: 'Into the Woods' offered by a stellar ensemble

Photos by Jesse J. Sutherland

★★★½ ☆- Satisfying

Into the Woods is a magical piece of musical theater, which brings lyricist/composer Stephen Sondheim’s and playwright James Lapine’s cockeyed fairytale to life. Into the Woods features all of your favorite characters — Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack (and his beanstalk) and the Witch — in this lyrically rich retelling of classic Brothers Grimm fables.

Hynes-Sight Entertainment and Super Summer Theatre present a satisfying three and a half star production of this groundbreaking, Tony Award-winning musical about wishes, family and the choices we make. Into the Woods is enchanting audiences now through June 8th at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park.

The story follows The Baker and his wife who wish to have a child, Cinderella who wishes to go the King’s Festival, and Jack who wishes his cow would give some milk. The Baker and his wife are visited by the neighborhood witch who reveals to them that she placed a curse on their family, sending the two set off on a journey into the woods to reverse the curse. Also in the woods, we meet Little Red Riding Hood, who is trying to visit her grandmother, the Wolf who loves tasty little girls, the Witch’s daughter Rapunzel, and the Princes chasing after their loves. Just when everyone has gotten their wish and will seemingly live happily ever after Jack’s beanstalk brings them a visit from an angry Giant, we see how the consequences of their actions haunt them in disastrous ways.

Into the Woods is in every sense an ensemble show, and this stellar company masterfully handles the complex, intricate, and exceedingly unique lyrics and sounds of Sondheim’s music. Worth noting are: Michael Vojvodich (The Baker), Amanda Kaiser (Baker’s Wife), Traci Kesisian (The Witch), Caitlin Cypher (Cinderella), Marissa McCoy (Little Red Riding Hood), and Melissa Riezler (Jack’s Mother).

Director Joe Hynes and his design team -- Cassie Lentz (Set Design), Andy Killion (Lighting Design), and Hailey Eakle (Costume Design) -- have succeeded in keeping the design elements simple so as not to overshadow the characters or story. However, throughout the evening technical transitions often lost momentum, breaking the rhythm and pacing.

Technical difficulties aside, Into the Woods is well worth a trip to Spring Mountain Ranch State Park and Hynes-Sight Entertainment is to be commended on stretching its creative wings, bringing our generation’s grand master of American musical theater to local audiences.

Stephen Sondheim is an American composer and lyricist known for more than a half-century of contributions to musical theatre. He has received eight Tony Awards, an Academy Award, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, a Laurence Olivier Award, and a 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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