It’s been a huge week for Falls Church’s original theater troupe, Laura Connors Hull’s Creative Cauldron. It started with the formal groundbreaking of the Insight Property Group’s Broad and Washington project that will include a prominent 5,000 square foot space for the Cauldron as its new working and performing space. The Cauldron folks were among those introduced and who performed a number for the Falls Church A-Listers in attendance at the groundbreaking last week.
The number, the crowd pleasing rendition of “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” was sung by performers in the Cauldron’s new version of the Steven Sondheim epic musical, “Into the Woods,” which premiered at the Cauldron’s current digs on S. Maple Ave. last weekend and runs there through the end of May.
Of the current production of “Into the Woods,” Associate Artistic Director Matt Conner wrote in the program notes that it is made up of stories that “resonate the very meaning of the human journey, a path filled with love, fear, disappointment and hope,” and that includes “the familiar and ageless songs that reflect the complexity of life.”
He thanks “all of the cast, crew, band and artistic staff that helped us find our way through this woods. This dedicated team has moved a few mountains and conquered a few giants to make a little magic happen.”
What follows is a review of the production as presented on its opening night last weekend by the News-Press’ Amanda Snead.
Creative Cauldron opened with its final production of the season last weekend. “Into the Woods” made its original debut in 1986 in San Diego before moving to Broadway and becoming an instant success, winning multiple Tony awards.
I have seen almost every production at Creative Cauldron this season but this was the first production I had any familiarity with so I was excited to see it. In 2014, the play was adapted into a Disney film with a star-studded cast including Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine and many other well-known actors. However, this was my first time seeing it on stage.
This play takes the plots of multiple Grimm fairy tales and intertwines them — including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel, as well as new characters including a baker and his wife and a witch who has cursed their family. The play was cast incredibly well and I enjoyed the performance put on by everyone.
I’m personally a big fan of musicals and this production won a Tony for Best Original Score so it’s no exception. The recently deceased Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics for this show as well as “West Side Story” and “Sweeney Todd.” Some of my favorites include the opening of Act One, “Agony” and “It Takes Two,” all of which have been stuck in my head since I saw the play last weekend. The entire cast was composed of very talented singers and their voices meshed well in all of the ensemble songs.
One of my favorite parts of the production was Chad Wheeler as the narrator. His voice was able to command the audience and help carry the story along in an engaging way and I also loved the occasional breaking of the fourth wall by the narrator.
Susan Derry’s portrayal of the Witch is also noteworthy. The Witch goes through many transformations throughout the play, both physically and emotionally, and Derry does an amazing job of conveying these.
I also enjoyed Ashley Nguyen as Little Red Riding Hood. This is another complex character as she acts tough and independent but at the end of the day she is just a young girl who is alone and needs guidance.
This tale is one that teaches the audience that sometimes exactly what we think we want isn’t what we truly need. It shows us that friends and family can be found in unexpected situations and that “happily ever after” isn’t always what it seems.
This is a truly timeless tale that will resonate with any audience member, regardless of age, gender, etc. Creative Cauldron always does an exceptional job with their productions and this might be one of my favorites so far this season.
Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased ahead of time at www.creativecauldron.org or by calling 703-436-9948. Shows take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday — Saturday and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sundays. This show is running now through May 29, 2022. Masks are required for all patrons at all times, and proof of vaccination or a negative CDC approved Covid test is required for all patrons over 5 years of age.