Review by Lauryn Angel
If you are a fan of musical theater, you are most likely familiar with Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods. Even if you’re not a fan of the theater, you probably remember the film version from a couple of years ago, starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, and Anna Kendrick, among others. It’s a classic riff on fairy tales that has seen many productions since its original run on Broadway back in 1987. Regardless of whether you’ve seen Into the Woods time and time again, or you’ve never seen it before, The Fiasco Theater’s off-Broadway production, at the Winspear Opera House until May 28, is well worth checking out.
The musical tells the story of several familiar fairy tale figures, including Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), and a Baker and the Baker’s Wife. Of course, there’s a witch, because it wouldn’t be a fairy tale without one, and things get complicated. The story is comedic, tragic, and a lot of fun.
One of the particularly fun things about this production is that many of the characters play multiple roles, leading to quick costume modifications to indicate changes of character. For example, Anthony Chatmon plays the roles of Lucinda (one of Cinderella’s step-sisters), the Wolf, and Cinderella’s Prince; this leads to some interesting and hilarious staging when Cinderella’s Prince attempts to put the golden slipper on Lucinda’s foot. In addition to playing multiple characters, many of the performers also provide incidental music in the form of an on-stage orchestra comprised of piano, bassoon, banjo, trumpet, cello, and waterphone.
Anthony Chatmon gives a brilliant performance, which is topped only by that of Darick Pead, who plays Florinda (Cinderella’s other step-sister), Rapunzel’s Prince, and Florinda the cow. Both give high-energy performances, and as the step-sisters and the princes, they play off each other well. But it’s Pead’s performance as Florinda that steals the show – often with little more than a well-placed “Moo.”
Parents should be advised that despite the fairy tale subject matter, the show is PG-rated material. The children who were present at the performance I attended seemed to enjoy the show, with most of the double-entendres going over their heads.