Saturday, June 07, 2014
Cappuccino Musical Theatre - "Into The Woods"
Cappuccino Musical Theatre
“Into The Woods”
by Stephen Sondheim James Lapine
The Studio at Vertigo Theatre
The Saturday Morning
“Before-Noon” Theatre Review:
Cappuccino Musical Theatre’s production of Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine’s
“Into The Woods”
Funny. About two weeks ago, I was expecting to be sitting in excellent seats, hearing Broadway legend Bernadette Peters bring certain career highlights to life. That show was suddenly cancelled, due to poor tickets sales.
Then I received a request to attend Cappuccino Musical Theatre’s current production of “Into The Woods”, and I was indeed able to hear music from that Tony-winning play. After the curtain came up last night, I believe the feeling was unanimous in the almost sold-out theatre - what a wonderful job!
As a piece of musical theatre, “Into The Woods” brings an un-Disney take on fairy tale characters you will recognize right away, and haunting songs like the beautiful “No One Is Alone”, and “Children Will Listen”. There’s plenty of comedy in this play about choices and heartfelt wishes, but the dark side that director Tory Doctor has chosen to focus on also notes the consequences - be careful what you wish for, it may very well come true…
On a simple yet perfect set for this particular production, a large cast of extremely talented singers and actors make the two acts fly by, bringing you completely into their fairy tale world, and the dangerous woods around them. The three actors alone that became trees, spirits and occasionally a cow gracefully blended into that set to nice effect.
On Broadway, Bernadette Peters played the role of the Witch, and Joanna Gleason (daughter of TV’s original “Let’s Make A Deal” host Monty Hall”) won a Tony for her portrayal of the baker’s wife. Cappuccino Musical Theatre has these roles well in hand and then some with a pair of powerhouses, Heather Spearman and Shandra McQueen. Spearman brings an appropriate amount of Peters to the Witch, along with a healthy dose of the late madcap Madeline Kahn - and her vocal performances are (like the rest of the cast) perfect.
McQueen is another perfect casting choice here - she can sing and zing her way through every scene, but here stage presence is what makes the baker’s wife come to life and believable. A little dorky, a little feisty, a whole lot determined.
Frankly, you’d be hard-pressed to find fault or flaw here. Cinderella (Naomi Derksen), Little Red Riding Hood (Shelby Leiding) and Jack of the beanstalk (Andrew Fraser) each shine, as well as all the other characters that surround them. As the baker, Ryan Wagner has many opportunities to carry robust melodies, and tender moments as well.
With a cast as large as you find in this play, I’m unfortunately not going to be able to comment on every member, but I do have to squeeze in a comment about the vocals of Allie Higgins-Pompu as Rapunzel - not a large part, but what a powerhouse!
Well, and her prince along with Cinderella’s (Andreas Zimmerman, and Doug Keeling, also a charismatic if not ill-fated wolf - both a hoot in their duet “Agony”). "Woods" has loads of fun with the characters, and the stereotypes of not only the fairy tale time, but the modern times this shifts somewhat into.
Hey, I’m running out of space here. If you are looking for a great night of musical theatre, you owe it to yourself to try finding tickets for this charming, thought-provoking play.
You can see pictures and get all the details from Cappuccino Musical Theatre’s website. Click on “Now Playing” to see what an amazing job they did with the costumes!
I sat down with director Tory Doctor before this run began. You can find my podcast interview here, or download it for free in iTunes (thatdanguy’s Podcast).
It’s also available from my YouTube channel.
“Into The Woods” runs at The Studio in Vertigo Theatre until June 14, 2014.