Be Careful what you wish for, this journey Into the Woods is fantastic
The KC Repertory Theater’s season opening night took place last night before a near capacity audience with Steven Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods. Under the superb direction of Broadway director Moises Kaufman and several stand out performances from the cast the Rep’s production is a fun turned bleak and dark journey were the worlds of Brothers Grimm fairy tales collide.
When a little boy points his father to a book to be told a bed time story before you know it the familiar characters are springing to life from every where on stage, even from out the boys bed. Cinderella, Jack, who will find his bean stock, The Baker, and Little Red Riding Hood. Each of them familiar but in a different way than they were in the simplified moral fairy tales of ones child hood.
Featuring a cast of many national and Broadway actors there were several stand outs. Michele Ragusa’s Witch, whose what I dubbed, Which rap in the opening was great fun. Dana Steingold as the sarcastic turned slightly vicious, after her near fatal trip to grandmothers, Little Red Riding Hood, and Claybourne Elder as the pedophile tinged Wolverine look alike wolf and Cinderella’s prince. I also quite enjoyed Euan Morton’s narrator.
Among local stand outs were Katie Kalahurka and Katie Karel As Florinda and Lucinda (respectively) otherwise known as Cinderella’s step sisters. The beautiful sounds of Lauren Braton as the perpetually punished Rapunzel were a delight. I almost feel bad for not mentioning the rest of the cast as every one does such an outstanding job with solid performances across the board.
The production values were another key very well done component. From the depths of the woods to the little boys bedroom, to the barren wasteland it becomes in act two. The costumes in particular the Witch and Cinderella’s step sister and step mother were real stand outs. The step sisters festival dresses look like something that could step out of, or on to a Tim Burton film. There was lots of detail, such as the horse and carriage used to show Cinderella’s step Mother and Step Sisters journey to the festival appearing in the boys room as a model/toy. It’s these little attentions to detail that help add to the depth of the production.
Act one is lots of fun with every one seemingly getting what they want. It nearly leaves you wondering where the second act could go. The highs of the first Act are quickly brought back down in act two. One finds that things don’t always work out, and loss will occur. What one wants is never easily obtained, or can be kept. Thus when the upbeat ending comes along it all feels a bit out of place.
Thanks to outstanding performances and production the Rep’s season starts out with a bang, or should that be therattling crash of a giant stomping through the woods? Either way this is a journey you don’t want to miss. Make sure to take your own Into the Woods before the final curtain on October 4, it’s well worth finding what is there.
I give into the woods 4 out of a possible 5 Fiendish Little Red Ridding Hoods
Visit www.KcRep.Org or call 888-502-2700 for ticket and performance information.
By John Coovert