REVIEW: Drama department’s spring musical ‘Into The Woods’ is a comical and dramatic tale

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The SCHS Drama Department debuted their spring musical, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s “Into the Woods,” on Thursday, April 4. The play, directed by senior Devin Wong and sophomore Taika Sorensen, intertwines and reinterprets many familiar fairy tales, including “Cinderella,” “Rapunzel,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and “Little Red Riding Hood” in a dramatic, comical and often morbid way.

The story begins with a narrator who introduces Cinderella, desperately wishing to go to the king’s festival, Jack, desperately wishing that his cow would give him milk, and a baker and his wife, desperately wishing to have a child. The creative use of syncopated speech and spoken song in the first scene and throughout the play sets “Into the Woods” apart from many other traditional musicals that have been performed at SCHS.

From the start, freshman Kiara Plaza entertained the audience as the snarky and sarcastic witch who tells the baker and his wife that to have a child, they must find a white cow, a red cape, yellow hair and a gold slipper. The couple heads into the woods where they run into Jack, Little Red, Rapunzel and Cinderella, all of whom are in pursuit of their own wishes.

Cast members took on a big challenge with “Into the Woods” as the musical gives almost every character a leading role. The songs were difficult. However, the cast included many impressive singers. Cinderella, portrayed by sophomore Sierra Blackhurst, sings beautifully to the birds early in the play and again on the steps of the palace.

Seniors Anirudh Tanugula and Sean McBride, as Cinderella’s prince and Rapunzel’s prince respectively, performed a comical and overly-dramatic duet of “Agony,” in which they agonize over their hard-to-get princesses. The baker, played by junior Sean Wainzinger, and his wife, played by senior Acacia Glover, also wowed the audience with their solos about lessons learned in the woods.

With such a complex plot, it was unfortunate that the lyrics of the songs were often difficult to hear. There were a few moments of odd lighting changes and awkward silence, which left the audience somewhat confused. It seems that having prior knowledge about the play would have made the storyline easier to follow.

One especially notable part of the performance was the realistic and perfectly-timed sound effects, such as the cries of the baker’s child and the “plink” of magic beans being planted. Audience members were also impressed by the creative use of shadows to portray Little Red being swallowed whole by the wolf and the giant looming above the town. A heavily-utilized smoke machine added to the dramatic effect of songs like “Last Midnight,” although at times, the presence of a large cloud of smoke seemed random and unnecessary.

The play comes to a close with a heartwarming moment in which the baker sings to his child. After the princesses had been rescued, giants had been slain, and more than a few eyes had been pecked out by birds, the audience is left with many memorable lessons about greed, friendship, teamwork, good and evil, and learning from mistakes.

 

Upcoming performances for “Into the Woods” are Friday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and twice on Saturday, April 13, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the SCHS theater. Tickets are $12 for general admission, and $8 for students with an ASB card.

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