Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Musical Review - Into the Woods at the Menier Chocolate Factory

About the show:

Into the Woods is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James
Lapine. The musical intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales, exploring the consequences of the characters' wishes and quests. The main characters are taken from "Little Red Riding Hood", "Jack and the Beanstalk", "Rapunzel", and "Cinderella", as well as several others. The musical is tied together by a story involving a childless baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family (the original beginning of The Grimm Brothers' Rapunzel), their interaction with a witch who has placed a curse on them, and their interaction with other storybook characters during their journey.
The musical debuted in San Diego at the Old Globe Theatre in 1986 and premiered on Broadway on November 5, 1987, where it won several Tony Awards, including Best Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a Musical (Joanna Gleason), in a year dominated by The Phantom of the Opera (1988). The musical has since been produced many times, with a 1988 US national tour, a 1990 West End production, a 1997 tenth anniversary concert, a 2002 Broadway revival, a 2010 London revival and in 2012 as part of New York City's outdoor Shakespeare in the Park series.

Meiner Chocolate Factory: Into the Woods - Menier Chocolate Factory

My opinion:

This time I went to see a very special production of Into the Woods at the Menier Chocolate Factory. It was fab to be back at the Menier Chocolate Factory, where I saw “Assassins” in December 2014. The theatre is very old and small, it’s like being in a cellar. In 2014 the stage was in the middle and the seats were on the left and on the right, this time it was a bit higher on wood and on the other side there were the seats.

The stage was very special, in the middle of it was an old piano. At the back there were lots of ropes, representing the forest. There was also a ladder, a table and several other things. On the sides were also some instruments. There was a total of 10 actors on stage. Most of them actually did more than one role and it was fascinating to see them switch the role, only with a little accessory. All of them also played some instruments in between and they all were on stage the whole time.

Little Red Riding Hood was Rapunzel as well, both princes had several roles. One of them was
the wolf and one of the step sisters, the other one was Jack’s cow and the other step sister. The both were hilarious!!! The had funny hats one and curtains as dresses and they were totally in the role. Now, an actual person as the cow sounds weird right?! Let me tell you: it totally worked!!! He did a fabulous job. Also some of the others had several roles and it was impressive to see them switch between them, it must be really tricky and imagine having to learn this and then also playing instruments in between. The princes weren’t typical princes, which actually gave the whole show a refreshing vibe. I wouldn’t have cast most roles the way they were, but they were actually all on point! The cast was a fab bunch and it was wonderful to say how they worked together and how they became one one stage.
The acting of all of them was brilliant! As for the singing, I really liked one of the Princes, Jack (Patrick Mulryan), the baker (Ben Steinfeld), the witch (Vanessa Reseland) and Cinderella (Andy Grotelueschen).
They also took turn in narrating the story, which totally worked. There is a narrator normally, but with this kind of production they found a great solution. The piano player was on stage the whole time, the piano just got moved around and he did a fabulous job as well.

The effects were awesome in this show. When the wolf ate the girl, they did a great show with shadows. There were several excellent moments like this.

This is a show where you can get lost (in the woods) for a positive reason of course. There are so many little details in this show, which put it on a whole new level. Just BRILLIANT!!!

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