A who’s-who of iconic fairy tale characters got much more than they wished for at this year’s spring musical, a raucous production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s “Into the Woods,” which played at the Blackford Theater April 16-17.
Noted for its thematic and musical depth, “Into the Woods” intertwines the stories of Cinderella (Caroline Howells, grade 12), Jack (Rishabh Chandra, grade 11), Little Red Riding Hood (Zoe Woehrmann, grade 12) and other popular fairy tale characters who all have a wish they want fulfilled. At the center of the story are a Baker (Jeton Gutierrez-Bujari, grade 12) and his wife (Madi Lang-Ree, grade 12), who wish to have a child, but are stymied by a curse put upon the Baker’s house by a Witch (Ishanya Anthapur, grade 12) after the Baker’s father was caught stealing six beans from the Witch’s garden. Each of them sets off toward the titular woods to seek out the objects of their desires, unaware of what may lie beyond their supposedly happy endings.
The through-sung musical, directed by Laura Lang-Ree, featured inspired performances from its cast, who brought out the surprising complexity of characters known mostly for their simple and moralistic stories. The woods themselves, designed by Paul Vallerga and lit and shaded by lighting designer Natti Pierce-Thomson, were consistently mysterious and foreshadowing and Caela Fujii’s costume design found the right mixture of homage and originality. Conducted by Catherine Snider, who also played piano, the orchestra provided the ideal soundtrack to the onstage action, interpreting Sondheim’s complex work with the appropriate whimsy and emotional depth.