Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Into the Woods

Into the Woods is on now until March 29th. You should go!

My review appeared on Beyond Robson last week, and I've posted it below as well.

Into the Woods
By Andrea Warner

Long before Shrek, there was another twisted, more sophisticated take on fairy tales to answer the question of "What happens after happily ever after?"

Into the Woods, on now at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, is the hit Broadway musical from Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street). More than any of his other productions, Into the Woods is stuffed to the brim with memorable characters and witty, wonderful songs.

Many of our nostalgic favourites get the revamped treatment, their intentions and their morals as compromised as any real person: Jack, with the bean stalk, is lovable but dim-witted; Little Red Riding Hood wields a knife with delectable pleasure; Rapunzel is a traumatized Virgin Mary, held captive by a wicked witch who just wants to be a mother.

The cast is fantastic, and the energy is high. A few performances to note: Jonathan Winsby and Ryan Reid as the two vapid but charming Princes are fun lotharios, and their voices blend beautifully on their two duets. Linda Quibell as the Witch alternates between heartbreak and evil, her powerful voice propelling many of the more emotional songs in the second half. Ultimately, it's Ingrid Nilson, as Little Red Riding Hood, who steals the show with excellent comedic timing, a unique voice, and a striking resemblance to a shrunken Reese Witherspoon.

It's a family friendly production to some extent, but some of the themes are mature (infidelity, revenge), and the body count is high throughout the more somber second half. The venue is small and intimate, and it's rare to attend a musical that isn't distorted by microphones. This is Patrick Street Productions' first show, and it's gratifying to see them tackle such a large-scale production so successfully.

Into the Woods continues until March 29th at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.

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