Summerstock goes 'Into the Woods' in Edmond
The Brothers Grimm collected dark and scary stories in the early 19th century. Then, near the end of the 20th century, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine collaborated on the Tony-winning musical “Into the Woods” based on some of those same tales.
UCO’s Summerstock Productions and Broadway Tonight, in partnership with the College of Fine Arts and Design, offers a lively and entertaining production at Mitchell Hall in Edmond through June 19, 2016.
Directed and choreographed by Steven Smeltzer, the show follows the script of the 2002 revival, which includes the three little pigs and two big bad wolves. The use of space and the pacing of the show are deceptively smooth, allowing the stories to stand out and interweave. Some opening night hiccups in the first part of the show had smoothed out by intermission, and the show looks to be a fun evening for everyone.
Smeltzer assembled a group of truly lovely voices. Leading the ensemble was Renee Anderson as the witch, who is both stereotypically unpleasant to look at and glamorous. Anderson at her usual professional best sold both sides of the witch beautifully, underlining the fact that appearance doesn’t make a lot of difference to a person’s inner character.
Cody Dent was the Baker, whose family curse keeps him and his wife childless. His quest to break the curse intersects with Cinderella’s desire to see the palace festival and Jack’s need to sell his best friend, the cow Milky White. Dent, a trifle stiff at the opening, relaxed into a solid character who has moments of indecision, pigheadedness, and compassion. Jeana Forman Gering played the Baker’s Wife, whose energy and single-mindedness drives the first act. Gering was delightfully committed and innocently corruptible.
Cinderella, played by Kylie Groom, is a combination of naïveté and the wisdom that comes from persecution. Groom gave her both sweetness and ultimately strength of character. Jacob Livesay portrayed Jack with an excellent balance of slightly dim-witted youth and pubescent bravado, and Stephanie Keegan-Moring played Jack’s Mother with long-suffering impatience.
Joseph Burleigh and Anthony Wilkinson portrayed the two princes (Cinderella’s and Rapunzel’s) and two wolves. The crossover casting for these roles demands that the actors give us two levels of relational predation, and both Burleigh and Wilkinson obliged with gusto.
The entire ensemble was composed of really lovely voices, and they were beautifully directed and perfectly placed in their roles and well-supported by the orchestra under the baton of music director Mariann Searle. Smeltzer’s choreography was energetic and deceptively simple to watch; the cast all looked very comfortable in the dance, even though a little thought revealed the intricacy of the patterns of movement on the stage.
Scenic design by Victor Shonk, with lighting design by Bentley Heydt, created a lovely atmosphere for the retelling of the stories in Act 1 and a decidedly spooky environment as the “happy ever after” begins to unravel in Act 2. Costume design by Desiree Hamm and Emily Herrera were equally supportive of the story.
“Into the Woods” is well-directed and well-performed at Mitchell Hall Theatre at 100 N University in Edmond. The show runs June 17 – 19, with an 8 p.m. curtain Friday and Saturday and a 2 p.m. matinee Saturday and Sunday. For tickets call 405-974-3375 or check the website at www.uco.edu/broadway.
This was previously published at okartsceneandhurd.com. Used by permission.