Monday, June 3, 2019

Into the Woods—Broadway Rose—Tigard, OR



        “…Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep…”


    This dark fairy tale musical has music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine.  It is directed and choreographed by Jessica Wallenfels and music director and pianist, Eric Nordin.  It is playing at their space at the New Stage, 12850 SW Grant Ave. in Tigard, through June 30th.  For more information, go to their site at www.broadwayrose.org

    …And, at time, can be more than a little scary, too, therefore, this play is not really for younger children.  Remember those classic fairy tales of the Two Doofus Princes…or, 2 Blind Step-sisters…or, A Giant Price to Pay…or, maybe, Happily Never After?  Not familiar.  Well, these and more stories, did really exist but you are probably more familiar with their counter-parts from childhood.  But, this time out, you will see a re-imagining of those classic tales.

    Reading of stories to children is a precious commodity but rarely exercised in today’s world, where the almighty Cyber-god rules our lives.  And so, our children have occupied their minds with video games, in lieu of a parental storyteller.  And, although fairy tales may not be a reflection of the real world, it does supply us with a type of moral compass, heroes and villains, right and wrong, good and evil…and that’s not such a bad start on our way to adulthood.

    And, in this play’s case, the Woods might just represent adulthood/maturity/reality and these selected characters must journey into and out of this tangled maze to find what they are made of…their moral fiber, if you will.  And it all starts with a Narrator (Dan Murphy) and “Once Upon a Time…”
And so, in this magic land, we have a poor family with a naïve, Jack (Tyler Andrew Jones) and his practical mother (Josie Seid) trying to make ends meet.
    
    So, they must sell their milky white cow at the market.  But he instead trades her for some magic beans…and we all know how that turns out.  Meanwhile, a rather snotty Red Riding Hood (Hannah Sapitan) is on her way to take some sweets to her Granny (Katherine Martin), until she meets a hungry wolf (Austin Comfort) and he seizes the opportunity for his next meal…and we all know how that turns out, too.

    And we also have an industrious Baker (Eric Michael Little) and his attractive wife (Leah Yorkston) who want a child and so make a pact with a devious Witch (Erin Tamblyn) that they will do some errands for in exchange for such a favor.  Also, can’t do a proper fairy tale without the adorable Cinderella (Kailey Rhodes) and her odious step-mother (Elizabeth Anne Young) and two bitchy step-sisters (Kayla Dixon and Sarah DeGrave), a nosy Steward (Alec Cameron Lugo) and her ineffectual father (Bruce Blanchard).  And, of course, there is the reclusive, Rapunzel (Kelly Sina), who is trapped in a tower under a spell.  And what would these two later tales be without a couple of wandering brothers, Princes, no less, (Comfort, again and Adam Elliot Davis).

    And so, you think you know the stories, do you?!  Well, “you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.”  This presentation will turn these tales upside-down, then, when things seem to be “…happily ever after,” they flip over once more.  This complex, re-inventing of these familiar stories, which are told with much gusto from an amazing cast and a pianist without equal, the brilliant, Eric Nordin!

I believe everyone will admit that Sondheim is not an easy composer to perform, but this cast is exceptional in that regard!  My favorite among the songs are “Agony” (the Princes), “It Takes Two” (the Bakers), “Stay With Me” and “Last Midnight” (Witch), “No One is Alone” (Red, Cindy, Baker & Jack) and, of course, the magical, “Into the Woods” (Cast).

    Wallenfels is exceptional in leading this group, as she is with all the shows she directs!  And, as mentioned, Nordin is a major part of this production’s success.  The costumes, too, are quite fitting and colorful by designer, Darrin J. Pufall Purdy.  A show that exceeds expectations!

    I highly recommend this musical.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

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