By Ryan Worthman, Clarksburg High School
Once upon a time in a far-off kingdom, there lay a small village at the edge of the woods. Into the Woods is a musical that brings together classic fairytales such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack and the Beanstalk, but not as you may remember them. Falls Church High School’s production of this timeless and beloved musical brought these fairy tales new meaning with comical and outrageous scenes that had the audience chuckling with non-stop laughter, as well as heartfelt moments that gave goosebumps throughout the theatre.
The musical’s journey began when lyricist Stephen Sondheim and playwright James Lapine decided to intertwine famous tales of several Brother Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales. The musical soon took the stage in San Diego where it made its debut at the Old Globe Theatre in 1986 and later premiered on Broadway on November 5, 1987 where it won 3 Tony Award. In 2014, the award-winning musical was then adapted for the big screen and starred big name actors such as Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, James Corden and Emily Blunt. The musical follows a childless Baker and his wife as they go into the woods to find a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn and a slipper as pure as gold. With these items, the Witch, who cursed their family tree to be a barren one, will reverse the curse so that the Baker and his wife may finally have a baby.
As the adventurous yet cautious Baker, actor Patrick Kearney presented his character in way that was witty and moving when needed. Patrick’s character development from a weak and cautious everyday baker into an adventurous and brave friend and husband was spot-on. Playing the whimsical and charming Baker’s Wife was Danielle Phan whose impeccable comedic timing and strong vocals set the mood for a fun and and heartfelt show. The connection between both actors was beautifully shown through loving facial expressions, funny couple arguments, and an admirable performance between them in the romantic song “It Takes Two.”
Obvious audience favorite Little Red Riding Hood, played by sophomore Sarah Mack, stole the show with her captivating vocals, charming facial expressions, and fetching acting. The way she commanded the stage in songs such as “Hello, Little Girl” and “I Know Things Now” took the show to a whole new level of greatness and led to a memorable experience for everyone watching. Another noteworthy performance was that of actress Cecilia Nguyen who played the Cow. Her commitment to the performance was both respectable and crowd pleasing. Despite limited stage time, she consistently brought her A-game through her hilarious movements and praiseworthy “Moo.”
In addition, the technical aspects of the show were fantastic. The colors of light blue with a hint of white during scenes in the forest and the dark red representing death presented by the lighting designer (Julian Hockenberry, Evan Foster) added a pleasant vibe to the show and was both flawless and visually appealing. The sets also proved to be a great addition the show with great designs such as the sides of the houses being painted as the pages of a story book which kept the theme of the show alive.
This show proved that life is not as simple as a fairy tale and that achieving a happy ending is not as easy as it seems. Falls Church High School’s production of Into the Woods was a pleasurable experience for the audience and was even more so because of the dedication of the talented actors and tech crew.