Cast members from Into the Woods. Photo: CenterStage
Into the Woods
Book by James Lapine
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by Michael Drury
Review by Brian Kennedy
Entire contents copyright © 2018 by Brian Kennedy. All rights reserved
With an ensemble cast effectively navigating through several storylines at once, CenterStage does an adequate job with Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.
Into the Woods is the showcase of what happens to the well-known fairy tale characters after happily ever after. The musical focuses on many classic fairy tales like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack and the Beanstalk, just to name a few. The storylines are interwoven and tweaked throughout, leading to many interactions between the fairy tale characters, each with their own reason for traversing through the woods.
For instance, the baker and his wife (Andrew Newton and Tymika Prince, respectively) are trying to release themselves from a witch’s spell that prevents them from having a child. They must find several random items that Jack (Roman Tate) and Little Red (Olivia Manning) just happen to have. At the same time, Cinderella (Erin Jump) is trying to get to a festival, Little Red is going to see her grandmother, and Jack must sell his milk-less cow.
The first act featured rapid-fire scenes with multiple storylines. It was hard to keep up at first where each one was going. This is not any one actor’s fault. All performers were clear with their intentions and on key with the musical numbers.
However, it didn’t prevent the belief that the cast could have brought more energy and feeling to their characters. The lone exception was Manning, as Little Red, who brought extra spunk to her character, making hers, by default, the most memorable one.
Each character gets to their version of happily ever after. However, when a giant enters the fray and destroys everything in its path, the way each character reacts may or may not be happily ever after. This act also showcased each actor giving more energy and character depth. It was as if they preferred playing this portion of the show. In particular, Brian Bowles, as Cinderella’s Prince, added plenty of humorous moments to his character thanks to his charm and wandering eye.
Each character gets a moment on stage where they are forced to contemplate life. Prince, as Baker’s wife, and Andrea Diggs, as the Witch, gave especially strong performances during their solos, each showcasing their range as well as the right amount of emotion.
Overall, the cast, containing many seasoned CenterStage and/or Louisville-area performers, mostly rose to the many challenges that face them in Sondheim’s Into the Woods. At times, they flirted with greatness, especially in the second act, but ended up just falling short of both their and the show’s fullest potential.
Into the Woods
Thursday, October 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 21 at 6:30 p.m.
Monday, October 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, October 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 27 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 28 at 2 p.m.
Monday, October 29 at 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, November 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 4 at 2 p.m.
Jewish Community Center
3600 Dutchman’s Lane
Louisville, Kentucky 40205
Brian Kennedy is a nearly life-long Louisville resident who has performed in plays since 2004. He also wrote extensively about the Louisville theatre scene for Louisville.com and Examiner.com from 2009-2015. Currently, he maintains the theatre blog LouBriantheater. When not involved in the theatre scene, he is an avid runner, participating in 5Ks throughout the state and in southern Indiana.