Into the Woods
Pieter Toerien Main Theatre, Montecasino
R100 to R375 at computicket.com
Until April 14
4 stars out of 5
The creative strength of Steven Stead and Greg King of
KickstArt come together again to bring Stephen Sondheim’s delightfully dark
fairytale mashup musical, Into the Woods, to the stage. The pair previously
staged the Sweeney Todd, also a Sondheim creation, and Cabaret, among others.
With a cast of 18 led by Michael Richard, Kate Normington
and Earl Gregory, this production of Into the Woods offers musical fans a
macabrely good time. The story, narrated by Richard centres around a Baker
(Gregory) and his wife (Jessica Sole) who are in want of child, to get their
wish they have to go into the woods and do the bidding of their neighbour, a
powerful and ugly old witch (Normington).
At the same time Cinderella (Haylea
Heyns) is dreaming of going to the festival and dancing with a prince, while
Jack (Graeme Wicks) is being sent off to market through the woods to sell the
Little Red Riding Hood (Megan Rigby) is also off into the woods
with a basket of bread for granny. In the wood their destinies converge and
Into the Woods was first staged in 1987 yet its main themes
remain relevant. The play’s best-known number, after the eponymous Into The
Woods, is Children Will Listen. The song is about how what we do and what we
say filters into our children, just because they don’t obey doesn’t mean they
don’t hear it.
Topical in the SA context as we increasingly see dangerous
behaviour from our children in their school environments – every week there is
another example of how the ills of our society are being acted out by our
Through the fairytales it retells (and they aren’t the
Disney versions), the musical shows how we pass on fears, desires and wishes –
How the Baker and His Wife’s desire for a child becomes more
important than how they get it and how Cinderella believes that her life will be
magically transformed if she just goes to the ball.
As the lights come up after the end of the first act,
everything is neatly tied up, the happily ever afters are all in place. But are
The second act throws the fairytale characters into chaos – as the
Baker’s Wife says archly, “I’m in the wrong story.” As their panic clears,
however, the characters pull together to fight their common enemy and get their
lives back, though they aren’t the lives they wished for.
With an innovative set design with a gnarled tree rooted in
fairytale books at its centre, puppets to supplement the cast, this is an
impressive production – a lot is expected of the cast over the production’s
three hours and they deliver flawlessly.
Through deliciously dark humour and
song Into The Woods is a cautionary tale about being very careful about what
you wish for – you just might get it.