As the holiday season is coming to a close and the new year just around the corner, Signature Theatre is finishing up 2022 with their eye-opening, tear-inducing and applause-worthy production of the beloved musical “Into the Woods.”
A 1987 production, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, “Into the Woods” intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales, mainly “Cinderella,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” and “Rapunzel.” These fairy tales tie with the main focus of the musical: a baker and his wife, cursed by a witch, are unable to have a family and must find various items related to the classic fairy tales to break the witch’s spell.
When taking a seat for the show, the stage is designed in a way that excites the audience members and prepares them for what is to come. Branches and leaves adorning the walls and stage transport the audience into the woods with the characters, while purple and green lighting provide the illusion of nighttime — the central setting of the musical.
Signature Theatre’s cast never disappoints with a performance, and this production solidified how talented the actors of Signature really are. Even if certain characters receive more lines or musical numbers, each character plays a pivotal role in the show and makes each performance memorable.
Although it’s very tough to pinpoint who “stole the show” based on the casts’ fantastic individual performances, Maria Rizzo’s role as The Witch is enough to make one smile, gasp, laugh and even cry. Normally playing the role of Cinderella’s stepmother in the show, Rizzo gives The Witch a humorous, yet dark edge that has the audience in the palm of her hand. Her vocal range is jaw-dropping, especially her emotional number “Last Midnight” which is comparable to Broadway legend Indina Menzel’s rendition of “Defying Gravity” in “Wicked.”
Although the runtime of the show is about two and a half hours, the story flows quickly and naturally. This production of “Into the Woods” appeals to adults, children and those who enjoy comedy, fantasy, romance or musicals in general. Even those who aren’t familiar or fond of musicals will be left awestruck due to the monologue and dialogue-heavy portions of the production.
With a wide range of musical numbers; some longer or shorter than others, there will be at least one song that sticks with an audience member. An obvious crowd favorite is the opening song “Into the Woods” that is sung throughout the musical in various scenes. This number can be a challenge for a cast to sing due to its quick lyrics and dependence on the actors to be in sync with and follow each other. The same can be said about “Your Fault” which is so fast-paced and energetic it can make one’s heart race. However, the emotional second to last number “No One is Alone” can bring tears to one’s eyes due to the spectacular singing of Katie Murray (Cinderella), Jake Loewenthal (The Baker), David Merino (Jack) and Alex De Bard (Little Red Riding Hood).
“Into the Woods” will be performed at Signature Theatre until January 8th, 2023. Tickets for the show can be found at https://www.sigtheatre.org/events/202223/into-the-woods/.