The Sonoma State University Department of Theatre Arts and Dance conjured up some magic with their incredible performance of “Into the Woods” on Thursday night. Music Director Lynne Morrow and Stage Director Marty Pistone came together as the perfect team to put on this challenging show.
Imagine all of the fairy tale characters from childhood stories; [Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Prince Charming, Jack and the Giants] stick all of those characters in the same magical land, add a curse and you have “Into The Woods”. The story centers around the Baker (Brett Mollard) and his wife (Natasha Potts), who are childless and wishing for a child.
The Witch (Allie Evans) who lives in the cottage next door reveals that she had put a curse on the Baker’s father years ago that would make his family barren. The Witch says she will reverse the curse if they find the items needed to make her young again. The Baker and his wife venture into the forest to find the items, and make some unlikely friends along the way.
To say this cast is talented is an understatement. Even the smallest parts were performed perfectly. The Narrator (Matthew Adiao), did a fantastic job of not taking attention from the scene, simply being a voice. Adiao also played the Mysterious Man and was the perfect balance of cryptic, creepy and later, loveable. Cinderella (Emily Thomason) was a very real and relatable character. Thomason has an incredible voice that blew the audience away. Jack (Lawrence Ricardo) and Jack’s mother (Elizabeth L. Robertson) played off of each other very well; Ricardo pulling off the innocence and naivety of a child perfectly. Milky White (Hannah Hobbs), Jacks pet cow, added an extra layer of comedy with her animated movements and timing. Hobbs handled the cow suit like a professional, giving Milky White life and personality.
The Baker and his wife were flawless. There was an incredible amount of chemistry between Mollard and Potts, both of them with strong, clean vocals and fluid choreography that sounded natural for them.
Emily Rice played Little Red Riding Hood, a fierce and sassy girl taking sweets to her granny in the woods. Rice kept audiences entertained and laughing, while also wowing with her incredible voice.
The talented Ted Smith played both the Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince, showing fantastic diversity in his acting skills. Smith was joined by Malik-Charles Wade as Rapunzel’s Prince and Smith’s brother. The audience roared with laughter during “Agony”, in which the brothers lament over their lost princesses.
But perhaps the most impressive performance was Evans as The Witch. This role is one of the most challenging in all aspects and Evans nailed it.
Her on-stage costume change was flawless. Going from an old, haggard woman to a young, gorgeous lady was quick and barely noticeable. Her sass and wit kept audiences laughing, but the heart of a mother came through beautifully. The power and strength of Evans’ voice leaves one speechless.
The set was fun and whimsical, really bringing the audience into the magical forest. It almost had a Tim Burton feel to it, with bright colors and creepy trees. Most of the costumes were crafted with the same idea in mind, especially in Act II. The 13-piece orchestra accompanying the cast is an extremely talented group of musicians. Their timing was impeccable, helping to bring the story to life by adding suspense or bringing relief.
The performance as a whole was everything “Into The Woods” should be, and more. It was dark, witty, comedic and passionate. The finale filled the room with emotion and caused goosebumps on every arm; leaving the audience wanting more.