Review: 'Into the Woods' at Broad Brook Opera House
- OnStage Connecticut Critic
Stephen Sondheim’s beloved musical explores what happens after our wishes come true, through the eyes of classic fairy tale characters. Each embarks on a journey of self-discovery and learns that things are not always what they seem. We all know that Cinderella makes it to the ball, Jack climbs the beanstalk, Rapunzel makes it out of the tower, and Little Red Riding Hood is rescued from the wolf. But what happens next? As most adults realize, there is always more to wish for, and contentment doesn’t always last. Broad Brook’s captivating and well-wrought production is satisfying for children and adults alike.
The cast of this show is top notch across the board. Lindsay Botticello’s portrayal of the Witch (who holds Rapunzel captive) is powerful, heartrending, and displays her incredible range as an actor and singer. She delivers comedic lines with impeccable timing, and sadness with convincing agony that brought me to tears--an impressive feat, given that the witch is not an entirely sympathetic character (as is typical of Sondheim, no character in Into the Woods is perfect). Kaytlyn Vandeloecht is likable as the slightly vacant and mentally unstable Rapunzel, and her clear soprano voice is suited to the role.
Michael Graham Morales and Nikki Wadleigh are wonderful as the Baker and the Baker’s Wife, a couple who have been cursed with infertility by their neighbor, the Witch, who sends them on a scavenger hunt through the woods to procure the items to break the spell: the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold. Morales and Wadleigh are both exceptional singers and actors who capture the love and exasperation between frustrated spouses. Morales’s “No More” toward the end of act two was another tearful moment.
Chelsea Kelle is perfectly cast as Cinderella. Her voice is clear as a bell as she sings to birds and wrestles with whether or not she really wants a handsome prince to sweep her off her feet. Her portrayal of the conflicted princess simultaneously conveys pragmatism and naivete, and her singing is professional quality. Anna Giza, Aileen Merino Terzi, and Jen Augeri are amusing as Cinderella’s haughty stepmother and stepsisters, and Glenn Gordon is hapless and dismissive as Cinderella’s father. Emily Smith provides the lovely voice of Cinderella’s mother, a ghost inside a tree who advises her daughter and grants her wishes. (She also voices the Giantess in act two.)
Randy Davidson is delightful as the impulsive and immature Jack, and has an incredible singing voice. Amy Rucci is laugh out loud funny as his exasperated mother. Kellie Comer is adorable as sassy Little Red Riding Hood, and Shaun O’Keefe is hilarious as the devious Wolf. Sherrie Shallack has a nice cameo as Little Red’s resourceful granny.
Gavin Mackie and Tim Reilly provide extra comic relief as Cinderella’s Prince and Rapunzel’s Prince. The two charming, yet insincere princes nail both of their duets. Thomas Schutz is masterful as the ruthless policy-adhering Steward, and Gene Choquette rounds out the cast as the glue that holds the story together, portraying the Narrator and the Mysterious Man.
Credit must be given to the entire production team. Broad Brook is a theater that definitely has its act together when it comes to direction, music, sound, and set design. Every single person who was a part of this team should be proud, especially Sharon FitzHenry (director), Bill Martin (music director), Moonyean Field (costumer), and Francisco Aguas (scenic design/set construction).
Into the Woods runs through May 22, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. It’s best to order tickets ahead of time (http://www.smplayers.homestead.com or (860) 292-6068), as Broad Brook is known for their fantastic shows and some performances may already be sold out. Tickets are $21 for general admission and $17 for children 12 and under and seniors 60 and over.