Fairytales lose their comforting familiarity onstage in the Oswego State production of Stephen Sondhiem’s "Into the Woods." Despite a few technical challenges, the cast and crew presented a strong performance. They brought the audience along through the twists and turns of the plot, proving that, in the end, this show is not at all about the fairy tales of our childhood.
"Into The Woods" started out describing several separate fairytales that we’ve all read, heard or watched at some point in our lives, such as Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Ridding Hood. As each were introduced, the characters told the audience what they wanted or were wishing for in order to better their lives.
Josh Gadek as the Narrator gave a strong performance, telling the audience what was coming up next in the story and leaving his little comments on the scene.
Olivia Zeis, who played Little Red Riding Hood, was excellent. She played the role of a young girl very well. Her character was one that the audience could relate to as a younger version of themselves, i.e. "going off the trail," and being naive. However, by the end of the play this all changes.
Gregory Reynolds as The Baker and Laura Pavlus as The Baker’s Wife were excellent playing the married couple on a mission to save something that is precious to them. Their role showed the audience that even though we want to do things alone, we should do it with someone we care for, such as a partner. This makes our goals more achievable knowing we’re not the only ones going after them.
Jack, the naïve young child who wanted adventure, was wonderfully played by Erik Shuler. Jack’s heart was strong for his friend Milky White the cow. Later, he had to grow up fast to defeat the Giant.
Sara Weiler, as Cinderella, was captivating. She wanted to get away from her horrible life and go to the festival. Once she did escape, her prince persuaded her to marry him and finally she gave in. She realized that maybe what she wanted wasn’t a "dream world" after all.
Cinderella was another character that everyone could relate to. At one point in all our lives we always want more than this horrid place we’re in. What happens when it comes true and we don’t want it anymore?
Cinderella’s Prince, played by Jonathan Powers, and Rapunzel’s Prince, played by Jason White, were hilarious with their witty dialouge. Their cockiness almost showed a weaker side to what we were lead to believe about princes.
Ariel Marcus made a strong performance as the Witch. She sounded and acted like the witches we grew up knowing, complete with a hideous cackle and power-hungry personality.
It was interesting how each fairytale came together, intertwining with each other to develop a story like this. The musical was delightful and entertaining as each character went through their story connected with the others to get what they wanted and live "happily ever after." All of the actors did an excellent job with each of their parts, delivering their witty dialogue with great enthusiasm.
The performance was greatly enhanced by the costumes. Of particular note was Cinderella’s Prince’s outfit; he really looked like he popped right out of a fairy tale. The set design was kept modest, a wise decision on the part of the director, to give a sense of simplicity to the performance. The lighting was on time and just right for setting the mood to each scene; brighter for "happily ever after," darker when there was dispair on the way, and colorfully showing panic when the revengeful giant came to town. Bravo also to the pit orchestra, directed by Todd Graber, for the support it gave to the cast and the depth it added to the performance.
While the musical was entertaining, it also used comedy to help produce a deeper image. The whole meaning is that we all go through hardships and joys. "Into the Woods" brings out our fears and hopes in life, as well as our consequences for choosing which path we’re going to take. Basically saying, while fairytales are nice, they aren’t real. We need to make our own decisions in life and see where the path in the woods takes us.