Theater review: Get out to see ‘Into the Woods’


“Into the Woods,” Stephen Sondheim’s 1987 foray into the world of the Brothers’ Grimm and other fractured fairy tales, seems to be waking up a whole new generation of theatergoers to the charms (and wacky horrors) of the original Broadway musical.

At least that’s what occurred at Bus Barn Theater this past weekend as Los Altos Stage Company began its four-week run of the off-kilter interweaving of children’s beloved bedtime stories. Many at opening night’s full house seemed genuinely surprised and delighted by the onstage shenanigans as if it was all new to them. (And maybe it was.)

The primary sources of all that excitement were a variety of excellent character portrayals and an intriguing, visually pleasing, three-dimensional scenic design of the woods by Brett Carlson. And, since “Into the Woods” is nothing without musical accompaniment, musical director Asa Stern’s tiny four-piece band, although hidden deep into the woods on one side, sounds fine.

Although Allie Bailey’s direction keeps everything moving swiftly from scenario to scenario, often with overlapping storylines, she makes a few questionable directing decisions so that the overall effect is not quite as solid as it could be.

One difficulty is the opening scene (of both acts) that is set in front of a scalloped blue curtain. While this was obviously done so that the woods itself would not be seen until the curtain rises, the area looks overcrowded with four different stories’ characters and the narrator all vying for space. (The baker and his wife are particularly cramped and frequently drop various “baked goods”on the floor.)

Another judgment call that went awry is positioning the narrator in the midst of the other characters. Artistic director Gary Landis, as the narrator, has to move around to be out of the way of everyone and everything going on around him.

That aside, the musical …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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