Musical premiere explores morality in fairytale form

Review: SPU’s Theatre Department wows audience

Where do wishes come true, giants roam and princesses run away?

The woods, of course.

Seattle Pacific University’s Theatre Department presents “Into the Woods” with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

Director Candace Vance, serving the SPU Theatre Department as head of performance, is an SPU Theatre alumna. 

Chris Yang | The Falcon
First year Nicolette Bull plays Jack, a young boy caring for her cow Milky White, in SPU’s production of “Into the Woods.”

Sondheim’s classic Broadway musical was adapted into a film by Disney and released in 2014, making it wildly popular since then.

“Into the Woods” follows the journey of a baker and his wife who have been cursed with infertility by a witch.  

In order to lift the curse, the witch requires a potion made up of four specific items.

The couple sets off to find a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn and a slipper as pure as gold.

The musical features a combination of familiar fairy tales all combined into one. While the baker and his wife scour the woods, characters such as Cinderella, Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel are all met along the way.  

All of these characters are either lost or trapped in the woods, and they each have one of the components that the baker and his wife need for the witch.

None of the characters are willing to give up their items, forcing the baker and his wife to scheme and get what they want cleverly.

The promise of a happily ever after keeps characters coming back into the woods.

Chris Yang | The Falcon
Sophomore Cole Zieser’s character the wolf runs after first year Emily Frier as Little Red Riding Hood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of Act One, its seems as if the story could end or, at least, would end in a normal fairytale. The company even ends their song with the words, “happy ever after.” Then Act Two begins, and everything goes south as the characters witness the consequences of getting what they want.

Act Two tells the story of happily ever after, and how time and circumstances work to maintain or derail the state of being happy. As the witch wisely puts it, “Wishes come true, not free.”

Despite the traumatic events of the second act, the musical ends on a positive, encouraging note looking toward the future.

The baker, played by first-year Andrew Cheesman, and the baker’s wife, played by senior Callie Turner, stole the show, captivating the audience with their performance.

Turner’s smooth voice made for an easy comparison to a young Julie Andrews.

Little Red Riding Hood, played by first-year Emily Frier, was also an obvious fan favorite with her stunning performance of “I Know Things Now.”

Walking into the theater, audience members are immersed in the world of “Into the Woods”; the set’s striking simplicity yet adaptable grace allows for a truly magical experience. 

Artistically crafted layers of the stage expanded the space, giving actors room to tell multiple stories at once without ever looking crowded. 

Chris Yang | The Falcon
Senior Alex Holliday sings as the Witch in SPU’s “Into the Woods” production.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to the stage design, the intricate costumes and makeup add emphasis to the characters’ personalities. Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters and stepmother have hilarious, outrageous makeup — a look perfect for their over-the-top personalities.

The most impressive part of the performance is the coherence between the actors and the orchestra. The music and theatre departments collaborated to fill the orchestra pit with SPU’s musically gifted students. Musicians in the orchestra enhanced the excitement and suspense of the plot with a variety of instruments that harmoniously evoked the audience’s emotions.

“Into the Woods” sets the bar high for future musical productions, and it is not one to miss.

Remaining performances: May 11, 12, 13 at 7:30 p.m., and May 13 matinee at 2 p.m.

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