Photo by Heather Butcher / Desert Stages Theatre
Click here for more information on this production that runs through August 7th.
"The intricacies of Stephen Sondheim's sensational score and James Lapine's exceptional book for their musical Into the Woods present plenty of challenges, even for the most gifted of actors and singers. So it's refreshing to see a talented group of teenagers attempt and succeed in tackling one of the cleverest musicals ever written. Desert Stages Theatre's production, composed almost entirely of teens, is a solid and successful take on this musical that seamlessly weaves together familiar fairy tales that we all grew up with....Director Lisa Barton does an exceptional job directing her youth cast. ... and allows the cast to show what they are capable of. ...The cast never gets hung up on any of the many overlapping and intricate parts of Sondheim's score, which is a testament to them and music director Elizabeth Spencer. The only downsides are a few vocal moments where high or sustained notes aren't quite hit or held that long and a few actors who aren't quite on the same level vocal wise as the rest of the cast. Also, a few of the many humorous lines are too quickly rushed, or delivered too seriously, thus losing a few of the punch lines. Besides those quibbles, Barton's cast is very good, with each doing exceptional work in creating realistic characters, all of whom learn and grow throughout the show. Eric Williams and Greta Perlmutter are very good as the Baker and the Baker's Wife... Perlmutter's performance of "Moments in the Woods," which shows a moment of conflict her character is faced with, is delivered with much thought and care while Williams' "No More" is extremely moving....Camden Wawro makes an exceptional Cinderella, full of heart and well-meaning, and she delivers a lovely and lively version of her solo song "On the Steps of the Palace." As the Witch, Vaibu Mohan is crafty, menacing, and slightly scary, yet also stunningly glamorous once her character experiences a transformation. Mohan's vocals are very good, with a well-delivered "Last Midnight" and one of the fastest versions of the "Witch's Rap" I've ever heard. Alyssa Granger is a fun and feisty Little Red Riding Hood while Hayden Skaggs makes a stellar Jack and his performance of "Giants in the Sky" is excellent. Skaggs, Williams, Wawro, Granger and Mohan also deliver an exceptional "Your Fault" that is perfectly staged by Barton....Aurelie Flores' costume designs are lovely and lush, composed of varied fabrics and patterns that evoke the fairy-tale period perfectly. ...With sure-footed direction and a very talented cast, DST's production...is simply enchanting." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)