Theater Review: INTO THE WOODS (National Tour at the Emerson Colonial Theater in Boston)

Post image for Theater Review: INTO THE WOODS (National Tour at the Emerson Colonial Theater in Boston)

by Lynne Weiss on March 22, 2023

in Theater-Regional,Tours


Last night, Boston became the third stop in the 2023 National Tour of the 2022 Broadway Revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s much-Tony’d and much-loved mash-up of some of the world’s most familiar fairy tales, ingeniously linked through plot and music. The touring company includes many cast members from the 2022 Broadway run, including the crackerjack Katy Geraghty as Little Red Riding Hood, the appropriately wolfish Gavin Creel (Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf), Cole Thompson as sweetly naïve Jack, David Patrick Kelly as the all-knowing Narrator and Mysterious Man, Diane Phelan as the reluctantly charmed Cinderella, Aymee Garcia as Jack’s long-suffering Mother, Alysia Velez as the lovely and ultimately resentful Rapunzel, the scheming Nancy Opel as Cinderella’s Stepmother, Ta’Nika Gibson as stepsister Lucinda, Brooke Ishibashi as stepsister Florinda, Jim Stanek as the Steward, Alysia Velez as Rapunzel, and the delightful Kennedy Kanagawa as Milky White/Puppeteer. What a treat that these performers have taken their Broadway roles on the road to bring those of us who live far beyond the Great White Way a chance to enjoy their talents.

Montego Glover

Other Broadway powerhouses also add to this production, most notably the just-right Montego Glover (“I’m not good/I’m not bad/I’m just right”) as the Witch, real-life spouses Sebastian Arcelus and Stephanie J. Block as the Baker and Baker’s Wife, Felicia Curry as the Giant’s Wife, and Jason Forbach as Rapunzel’s Prince. Forbach and Creel make a terrific duo, providing some of the most delicious moments of the show as they compete for audience sympathy and express their frustration over unattainable love in “Agony.”

Stephanie J. Block, Sebastian Arcelus, and Katy Geraghty

The basic concept of Into the Woods is that characters from the stories of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Jack and the Beanstalk, all seeking to fulfill a wish, are brought together via the Baker and his Wife, both of whom must appease the Witch with an object from each fairytale in order to remove a curse and have a child. By the end of Act I, the major characters have had their wishes fulfilled and expect to live happily ever after, but then we come to Act II.

David Patrick Kelly, Kennedy Kanagawa, and Cole Thompson

Desire does not end, our characters learn. A longed-for baby requires constant care and a bigger house. Endless wealth is boring, and so is life in a palace. Winning the woman he once pursued does not keep a prince from longing for yet another woman. But these mild discontents are nothing compared to the rage of a Giant. Property is destroyed, and lives are lost. At first, the survivors shriek and squabble, blaming one another for this unfortunate turn of events until they come to understand that “no one is alone.”

Ta'Nika Gibson, Brooke Ishibashi, Nancy Opel

Throughout the musical, the characters wrestle with the competing “morals” of different fairy tales as they try to decide just how far they can go, first to satisfy their longings and then to simply survive. Sondheim’s clever wordplay — often expressed in contrapuntal melodies and lyrics from multiple characters — charm and intrigue while carrying a deeper message, as it is in all the best musicals. “People make mistakes,” we are told, especially fathers and mothers, “but Witches can be right/Giants can be good.” In this era of recovery and struggle — from COVID, gun violence, climate disruption, perhaps Trump? — this is a production that reminds viewers that pursuing a single-minded wish is not the route to happiness. It offers no fairy tale endings or encouragement to “climb every mountain” or “dream the impossible dream” but reminds us that the only way we’ll survive is by recognizing that “no one is alone.”

Jason Forbach and Gavin Creel

photos by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

Gavin Creel and Katy Geraghty

Into the Woods
national tour
ends on April 2. 2023 at the Emerson Colonial Theater in Boston
tour continues; for dates, cities and tickets, visit Woods Tour

Diane PhelanCole Thompson

Stephanie J. Block

Alysia Velez

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rick Woods March 28, 2023 at 12:25 pm

This is a summary, not a review


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