Another outstanding production from Adelaide Youth Theatre for 2022 is Into the Woods.
With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, the incredible production team of Emma Riggs and Kerreane Sarti deliver once again a high quality show that spotlights the burgeoning young talent of South Australia.
Into the Woods intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales, exploring the consequences of the characters wishes and quests. The main characters are taken from Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Cinderella. The musical is tied together by a story involving a witch whom tasks a childless baker and his wife with procuring magical items from these classic fairy tale characters to reverse the curse put on their family tree.
While not a typical sung through musical, the dialogue in the show is characterised by the use syncopated speech, and delivered with a fixed beat or kind of spoken song.
This was not a junior version, but a solid two and a half hour full show. I’ve always felt Sondheim and Lapine could have condensed this musical [I feel the first act has enough of a beginning, middle and end to satisfy audiences], but it doesn’t get tired or boring.
The set is lovely and enchanting with clever moveable pillars acting as trees and an incredible shadow frame house, while the lighting is moody, dramatic and suspenseful.
The real-life husband and wife team of Serena Cann, Director and Louis Cann, Musical Director are just wonderful.
They obviously know the show well and steadfastly bring it to life.
I was particularly impressed with the set up of the orchestra – seated behind the transparent cyc, and featuring the breathtaking sounds of percussion, strings, woodwind, and horns.
I loved how the music co-ordinated with movements from the cast.
And this young cast were marvellous from start to finish!
Supporting actors Maisy-Jo Russell, Abigail Sharp and Hannah Vandervlag who played Florinda, Lucinda and Cinderella’s Stepmother were hilarious, as were Cinderella’s Prince [Kane Mobbs] and Rapunzel’s Prince [Connor Russell]. Their witty duet ‘Agony’ had the audience in stitches.
Young Kyle Mobbs and the ever-lovely Chloe Seabrook took on the roles of Jack and Jack’s mother and their rapport was heartfelt and honest.
Stella Byrne’s Rapunzel was ditsy and dippy, and Zachary Baseby as The Wolf was suitably menacing and gruff.
Thomas Lawson played the Narrator with conviction, while Teresa Van Der Hoek, Charlotte Turner and Matthew Wright rounded out the supporting cast nicely as Cinderella’s mother, Granny and Cinderella’ father.
Immi Beattie’s portrayal of Cinderella was sweet and delightful, as is her voice and ability to slide across the stage in choreographed tumbles.
Little Red was perfectly pitched with Kiara Linke donning the elusive red cape. Her tone is always charming and bright, and she showed us she can dial up the comedy and naivety just as easily as she can act in a drama.
Seasoned performer Deon Martino-Williams and Madeline Grey played the husband and wife team of the Bakers. Martino-Williams always delivers with his beautiful, timbre tones and sincere stage style, while Grey was pure Hollywood magic as his wife. Presenting definite Emily Blunt vibes, Grey was so believable, with her determined and romantic qualities.
The standout for me was charismatic Isabella Eddowes as The Witch.
Strong, vain and self-serving, Eddowes brought the villain to life both physically and vocally – she embodied a true Disney sound in the way she spoke and sang, and at times when I closed my eyes, I actually thought I was listening to Donna Murphy.
A fantastic production, another massive tick of approval and congratulations to this team, who never let me, or their audience down!