By Kristianna Pirrie of Pattonville High School
Life has unexpected turns and thickets and valleys and clouds that we must overcome. We journey into the woods of our lives and learn about one another and what our place is in the world.
It is filled with happy endings, sad goodbyes, greetings and farewells, and unexpected friendships that last forever. Stephen Sondheim decided to illustrate this concept in his brilliant adaption of fairy tales: "Into the Woods." On a starry night in March, Mary Institute & County Day School has decided to bring that illustration to life in their 2013 production of "Into the Woods."
With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, this classic fable of intertwining fairytales debuted in San Diego at the Old Golden Globe Theatre in 1986, and premiered on Broadway in 1987.
It is the story of Cinderella, Bakers, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel among other stories. These characters journey into the woods to find their wishes and build relationships through it. The first act consists of the well-known happy endings, but the second act tells what happens after those fateful happy endings.
Leading the show is John Dunagan as the Baker. Dunagan completely captures his character’s timid and humble nature. His opposite, Olivia Gacka as the Baker’s wife, is also exceedingly talented. She commands the stage with a humor and sarcasm that contrasts nicely with Dunagan’s sweet portrayal of her husband.
The two have such a contrast that the audience falls in love with the chemistry between them. From start to finish, the Bakers are flawless.
Other notable performances are that of the vocal talents of Cinderella’s Mother (Molly Burgess) and Rapunzel’s Prince (Alexander Schroeder). These two bring such a grace and poise to the show with their vocals.
Their technique is solid and they perform a free manner that is an absolute delight to listen to. Some characters are not as strong in this area, so to hear these two is a pleasant contrast. Alexander Schroeder has such a flair for his character, the Prince, and takes every opportunity performs his heart out.
Accompanying him as Cinderella’s Prince is Alex Bush, who completes this dynamic duo. Bush has a charm about him that is unmistakable and he uses it to his complete advantage!
The energy by other performers in the show is not as consistent, so performances like Bush’s help the show move at a good pace. These enjoyable performances make songs like “Agony” and “Any Moment” fun and hilariously exciting.
Technical aspects of this production add so much to the performances. Lighting by Preethi Umashanker brings an irresistible mood to the show. The moods change in different scenes going from exciting to dangerously fearful, and the lighting conveys these perfectly!
Sound (Rabia Shinawi) is also quite impressive, as high school shows in general have trouble with this aspect. Not for Mary Institute & County Day School. A round of applause goes to all technical aspects of this production.
So, one might say Mary Institute & County Day School’s production of "Into the Woods" is a triumph for the school. The powerful message of redemption and love in this show is one that everyone should hear of. To Mary Institute County Day School, bravo to you.
This review was submitted by The Cappies, a program that trains high school theater and journalism students as critics. The students then attend shows at other schools, write reviews and publish those reviews in local news outlets. At the end of the year, student critics vote for awards that are presented at a formal Cappies Gala.