Review: Into the Woods at MTH



Into the Woods at MTH, photo by Tim Scott

Fairytales are experiencing a resurgence in popularity in recent years among audiences of all ages. From television's Once Upon a Time, to modern novels featuring fairytale characters reimagined in a world where modern life meets fantasy, it seems that modern takes on classic fairytale are growing in popularity.

Stephen Sondheim introduced us to Into the Woods thirty years ago. Sondheim, always ahead of his time, created a timeless tale interweaving storybook classics like Cinderella, Jack (of the beanstalk), and Red Riding Hood as he introduces them to a mix of modern and fantasy perils. This November, MTH Theater at Crown Center is brings Sondheim's masterpiece to stage. I attended the Nov. 3 showing of this production with my daugthers. My girls participate in CYT and they were excited to see the musical director, Lindsay James, for last spring's Annie Warbucks on stage as Jack's mother. 

If you're a fairytale fan who's never seen Into the Woods, you'll love this first exposure to Sondheim's classic. If you've enjoyed the recent film production starring Meryl Streep, you'll appreciate this chance to see well-done stage interpretation of the original play. For Sondheim fans, this production is a delightful telling that is faithful to the classic, but offers its own creative styling.

Into the Woods runs at the MTH Theater at Crown Center thru November 19. For tickets and more information contact the MTH Theater Box Office at 816.221.6987 or mthkc.com.

I was impressed with the talented fifteen member cast, many strong soloists, and all gifted performers as they tackled Sondheim's famously complicated musical score. 

The stage is sparse, leaving the setting to the audience's imagination, with the pianist (arguably the true star of the show) at center stage. Listen closely as lyrics unfold telling the tales of Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, and a Baker and his Wife. Their stories are intertwined on their respective journeys into the woods. Where would a compelling fairytale be without a witch? In this tale, the witch, played by Broadway veteran Val Fagan, finds her story connected to many of the characters. She meets the childless baker and his wife and send them on a mission to collect four rare artifacts in order to break the witch's curse. The show is a charming retelling of all your favorite fairytales, and act two offers a surprising and through-provoking twist asking the audience to question assumptions. 

The show was directed by Sarah Crawford with an ensemble including Chelcie Abercrombie, Samantha Barboza, Patrick Beasley, John Cleary, Cara Hampton, Robert Hingula, Lindsay James, Tom Lancaster, Korrie Murphy, Andrew Schmidt, Emily Vargo, Morgan Walker, and Kayla Wilkins. Jeremy Watson will co music direct alongside Crawford.

Into the Woods at MTH Theater at Crown Center​ is a charming presentation of Sondheim's classic. Perfect for a date night, parents' night out, or evening with tweens and teens, this is a wonderfully retold fairytale fantasy set to a terrific musical score. 

 

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