Tuesday, September 10, 2019

review - INTO THE WOODS - Mesa Encore Theatre

Gracie Gamble, Karissa Anderson-Self, Thomas Wilson, and Joseph Sullivan
photo by Justin McBride
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through September 22.

"The combined genius of composer Stephen Sondheim and bookwriter James Lapine created Into the Woods, which I believe is one of the cleverest musicals ever written. As they seamlessly weave together familiar fairy tales and characters into an overlapping story, Sondheim and Lapine also show us that you must be careful what you wish for, as not all fairy tales have happy endings. With just a few small shortcomings, Mesa Encore Theatre presents a solid production of this Tony-winning musical, featuring beautiful creative elements and an excellent cast who derive funny and emotionally rich performances.....The cast is just about perfect, though the jokes in the humorous lyrics and comical dialogue don't all land due to uneven comic timing and direction. Thomas Wilson and Lindsay Decoste are very likable and endearing as the Baker and his Wife. ..As Cinderella, Karissa Anderson-Self is charming and simply delightful..As the Witch, Irma Gloria has a firm grasp on this unconventional character ...With a perfect droll line delivery that makes every joke land and a bright and sunny disposition, Gracie Gamble delivers one of the best performances of Little Red Ridinghood in the dozens of productions of this show I've seen. As Jack, Joseph Sullivan is appropriately bright, good natured and a little bit dim....Director Rita Liegl incorporates many original moments, both comical and serious, into the production and makes good use of the entire stage as well as a few areas off to the sides in the auditorium, ensuring the pace is brisk and never falters. However, some of the humorous lines and lyrics are delivered too seriously or rushed too quickly so they don't land and some of the scenes are too busily directed, thus losing their impact...Fortunately, just about every other song, especially the ones in the second act, are staged so effectively that they perfectly get across their humor and pathos. Sondheim's score features some of his best ballads, including "No One Is Alone" and "Children Will Listen," with many intricate and overlapping parts and music director Lorenzo Slavin does an exceptional job with the small onstage band, who sound fantastic, and the large cast, who never miss a beat..... " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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