Director Jasen Jeffrey deals with the convoluted story with meticulous detail

Jennifer Mitchell and Juliana Lustenader in “Into the Woods.”
Photo courtesy Broadway by the Bay


By Camille Bounds

Once upon a time the musical genius Stephen Sondheim and playwright James Lapine gathered a bunch of Grimms’ fairy tales and created a musical that has delighted audiences throughout the past 20 years. (It had its opening on Broadway in November 1987 with some tepid reviews.) Lapine’s intricate plot takes us on a dark psychological speedway ride through the stories we grew up with that always ended with the promise of “happily ever after.”  Fasten your seatbelts. Nothing of “Into the Woods” resembles anything we were weaned on in the storybooks that was lovingly read to us as children.

Lapine tells his story of Red Riding Hood, (a tough little broad not to be messed with), an undecided Cinderella, a baker, (who represents all of us at one time or another), and his wife. A goofy Jack and his bean stock with a mother that makes Vicki Lawrence’s “Mama” look like Mother Theresa, A dysfunctional Rapunzel, a couple of egotistical married, women-chasing princes with eyes on Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Of course you have to have a wolf as an ogre and a wicked witch to round out the interwoven plot line that tells the story of “us” and how we transverse the woods of our lives — and how with every action there is a reaction. The show stealer is Jack’s cow who connects with the audience without saying a word.

Director Jasen Jeffrey deals with the convoluted story with meticulous detail. He marches the fine-tuned actors all with fine voices, through the forest of life with a delicacy and an underlying strength that pulls the intricate plot together. Sondheim’s elaborate lyrics need your attention to get the meanings. His music leave some beautiful moments but these tunes were not meant to be hummed out of the theater.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Scenic designer Kelly James Tighe’s forest set keeps things simple. Joe D’Emillo ‘s lighting and Katelyn Bailey’s costumes hit their mark and bring their fine talent to the production. Then there is the ever superb Sean Kana and his baton. Music never sounds better than when he is at the musical helm of any show.

Broadway By The Bay always brings a quality to their productions that assures the theatergoer the value of their ticket. They never disappoint with their art of theatrical entertainment. “Into The Woods” is a romp through life without Band-Aids.  It does not always end happily ever after. But we do go on for the better and hopefully learn from our mistakes.


DETAILS:

“Into The Woods”

Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Book by James Lapine

Produced by TheatreWorks

Where: Fox Theater at 2219 Broadway Street-Redwood City

Through Nov. 24

Time: 2 hours 45 minutes- (long first act, enter comfortable) with one intermission.

Tickets and Information: (650) 579-5555 or visit broadwaybythebay.org

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Camille Bounds

Camille Bounds is the theater columnist for the Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy LIfe newspapers. She has performed on Broadway and traveled around the world. She can be reached at: bounds17@gmail,com