The cast of Into The Woods.
Photo-Mind’s Eye Theatre Co.
Into the Woods
Book by James Lapine
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by Janet Morris
Review by Annette Skaggs
Entire contents copyright © 2015 by Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved
If I know one thing for sure, the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim seldom miss. Sweeney Todd and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum included in his many hits. Include Into the Woods onto his deep discography. Since its 1988 Tony-award winning turn on Broadway (beating out Lloyd-Webber’s Phantom of the Opera), Into the Woods has become a favorite with high school and regional theater.
Make no mistake; this is not a fluffy musical to produce. It takes talent from its performers as there is not much spoken dialogue and it takes vision from its production team and director as there is a lot of action going on and you have to fit quite a bit of scenery onto a smallish stage, most of the time. Congratulations to Mind’s Eye Theatre Company for finding a troupe of performers and production staff that have what it takes to pull it off.
The stage is full. Almost to the point that I was worried that performers were going to trip over themselves because of the amount of scenery. But the pieces were needed, so, a lot of diligence was evident in the blocking. As entertaining and imaginative as the set and scenery was, it was not conducive to the whole of the audience at the Mex Theater being able to see some of the more “magical” moments of the musical, such as Cinderella’s mother’s appearance.
So let’s talk about the show and its performers. If you are not familiar with Into the Woods, allow me to give you a brief introduction. Imagine some of your favorite fairy tales colliding together to create another fairy tale. The aforementioned Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk…you get the picture.
The show begins with a Narrator (Phillip Garrett) who tells us of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and the Baker and his Wife who long for a baby. Soon we are introduced to the Witch, who is more or less a catalyst to the intertwining of the stories that we are familiar with, that are the whole of Into the Woods.
From the first vocal chord of Cinderella at the Grave, I was impressed with Cinderella’s (Carrie Cooke Ketterman) vocal reach. Her intonation and soul for each song was evident throughout the musical. Also memorable was Ms. Ketterman’s husband, Jeff Ketterman, who plays the Baker. His passion for the role was prominent in all that he did.
I was pleasantly delighted with many within the group, such as Valerie Canon as the Baker’s wife. Despite not having a lot of volume to her voice, it is lovely in its style and a perfect fit for the role. Also enjoyable was Olivia Martin’s Rapunzel. Although she does not have as many songs as some of the others, she sang with clear resonance and melody.
Jennifer Poliskie certainly took the Witch and made it her own. She was delightful to watch and kudos for her climbing abilities. Also, I enjoyed, with a musical geeks delight, when brothers Josh and Jeremy O’Brien (Cinderella’s Prince and Rapunzel’s Prince, respectively) would harmonize. Jake Minton’s Jack was believable as the young lad who starts off as naïve but gets braver. Mary Stuart Peace and Mandy Kramer (Lucinda and Florinda) are fun and irritating as the Stepsisters (just as they are supposed to be). Rebecca Chaney’s Little Red Riding Hood is adorable.
I don’t know if it was opening night jitters, but there were often times that I could not hear lines of dialogue or several measures of singing. I think part of it was due to positioning on stage, but I believe some of it was due to the voice still finding its way.
Congratulations to Kim Stover Hartz (Jack’s mother/Music Director) and Janet Morris for finding a well pedigreed assemblage of singers/performers for this production. So if you enjoy musicals like I do and would like to familiarize yourself with some of your favorite Fairy Tales in a different light, grab a friend and head to the Mex Theater for a trip Into the Woods.
I’d like to give a special tip of the hat to Katie Dearmond as Milkey White. See the show, you’ll know why.
Into The Woods
March 6, 7, 10, 12, 13, 14, 2015 @ 8:00 pm
March 8 and 15, 2015 @ 2:00 pm
Tickets: $18 and are available by calling 502-584-7777, online atkentuckycenter.org., or avoid service charges by purchasing tickets at the Kentucky Center box office.
Mind’s Eye Theatre Company
Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts
501 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40204
[box_light]Annette Skaggs is a heavily involved Arts Advocate here in Louisville and freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York Opera and Northwestern University. She has a 25+ year knowledge of the Classical Arts.[/box_light]