For those unfamiliar with the musical Into the Woods,
Mostly, the show follows a narrator telling the story of Cinderella, Jack (of the beanstalk), Little Red Ridinghood, a witch, a baker, and the baker’s wife. Their lives intertwine in the first act as the baker and his wife go on a quest to find objects to lift a spell that was placed on the baker by the witch. The end of Act 1 sees everyone getting exactly the happy ending they wished for, and Act 2 shows that the world is darker and more complicated than simply granting wishes.
This show is consistently one of my favorites (I have been familiar with it for nearly a decade), and Musket’s performance on Sunday afternoon offered a refreshing take on this beloved musical.
The large tree set pieces moved smoothly between engaging forest arrangements, despite reaching higher on the stage than the eye could see. Fog machines lived inside a few of the trees as well as upstage, and the liberal use of fog was much appreciated by this audience member. What’s the point of doing a show that takes place in the woods if you don’t fill the stage with fog at every available chance? That’s a trick question, because there is no point.
The orchestra played very well, especially considering the stamina that’s needed for a Sondheim score: even in scenes with the most dialogue, a song is not far behind. The cast was full of beautiful singers who excelled with the music as well.
A special commendation to the person or people behind deciding on Milky White’s costume. (Milky White is Jack’s best friend/cow whom he trades for magic beans.) Whether or not the designer was aware of the internet phenomenon of Low Budget Milky Whites, this trouble was avoided by dressing the cow actor simply in white clothes and wisely leaving it to him, the other actors, and the audience to project cow-ness onto the scenes.
The whole cast, obviously, was phenomenal. I was seriously impressed by how much fun they all seemed to be having. It’s hard to keep your energy up in a show that’s 2 hours and 45 minutes, especially for your last show, and especially when it’s a matinee, but if this cast was feeling tired it was impossible to tell. Their enthusiasm for the story was infectious.
If you’ve never seen a performance by Musket, I would recommend that you make an effort to see what they can do.
P.S. If anyone from the production is reading this, the narrator was the baker’s son, right? That’s what the ending was telling me? It was different from what I’m to, so I imagine that the difference meant something. He was wearing the same shirt as Jack, and the same hat as the baker/the mysterious man. And the baker gave him the story…because he’s the son! Right? If not, I’m sorry for reading too much into things, but if so, that was a beautiful ending.