Warning: SPOILERS below!
Another year, another massive PGS musical. And it’s another cracker. A brilliant showcase of talent from the precision and unfaltering job done by the techs, the wonderful soundtrack from the orchestra and the singers, the incredibly directing and of course the superb acting. I was lucky enough to get the view from the backstage before I saw the play, and the Into the Woods cast runs like a well-oiled machine or a new engine, or an Olympic runner… or… you get the picture. Just a quick warning to those who haven’t seen it yet and plan to, spoilers ahead, come back when you’ve seen it!
Into the Woods was a play written by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim and combines a whole bunch of fairy tales into one story. You’ve got Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Rapunzel and more. It plays with the idea of all of this happening in the same world, and the story not ending when it seems like it does.
From the completely batty but brilliantly funny grandmother played by Susie Shlosberg to the scarily vicious wolf played by Ben Cranny-Whitehead with a worryingly hungry obsession and the strict but worried and loving mother of Jack played by Emily Whitehead to the Stepmother and two Stepsisters played By Alex Dassow, Jean-Mickael Hopkinson and Oliver Saunders that added hilarity and fantastic comedy moments to some scenes. I feel like I’ll always be disappointed when seeing another Stepmother in another play, as no one does it quite like Alex Dassow. And those were just the side characters, the ones who didn’t quite make it into the band of heroes, or the ingredients for the potion. Cordelia Hobbs gave an outstanding singing performance as Cinderella, and Daniel Hill brought on a story like presence on stage whenever he walked on, until he’s squished of course. Speaking of squish and presence, the often difficult-to-master Witch was perfected by Loren Dean, whether the spotlight was on her, or she was just behind everyone being creepy. Supported by the rest of the cast and their terrifying reactions to this devilish creature, the Witch changed from the scary villain in the first half to the merciless and cunning leader of the group of fairy-tale characters. I didn’t think it could get any worse until the giant played by India Stewart-Evans turned up and boomed her commanding voice throughout the theatre looking for Jack. Jack was brilliantly played by Saskia Quarrie-Jones, who managed to superbly capture the care-not boyish attitude of the giant slayer.