REVIEW: Into The Woods

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.



PREVIEW: Into The Woods

Image from the event Facebook page

You’ve seen the movie, now see it live: Musket is presenting Into The Woods on March 27 and 28 at 8pm and March 29 at 2pm!

The entirely student-run theater organization will be performing the Sondheim musical at the Power Center for Performing Arts.

Don’t wait until the last midnight to get tickets! Buy yours in advance from the League Ticket Office for $7 for students and $13 for adults. At the door they’ll be $10 for students and $15 for adults.

REVIEW: University of Michigan Women’s Glee Club Fall Concert

From the fall concert Facebook event

The Women’s Glee Club started strong in their opening song on Saturday night, singing “The University” to Hill Auditorium. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of students filling the mezzanine, supporting the Women’s Glee Club in their first concert of the year. The theme for this concert was Celebrating Sisterhood, Song, and Strength, and these were found throughout the evening. Song was obviously accomplished by the music they sang, spanning styles and languages from English to Italian to Bulgarian.

The Italian selection “Canzonette a tre” included accompaniment from a violin, viola, and recorder, enhancing the experience to feel more medieval. They sounded excellent together, and I am always a fan of including other instruments to contribute to the sound and atmosphere. Following the Italian pieces was a 6-song string of “Songs for Women’s Voices” by Gwyneth Walker. All poems in English that were put to music, it began with a satire that explained how women should be pedestals that are under men’s command, but concluded with a piece about the power and of a woman’s love. Next was “Ergen Deda”, an up-tempo song in Bulgarian that helped to break up the pace of the concert and give the women something to smile about and move around to. They concluded the first half of songs with “Lux Aeterna”, simply a beautiful composition.

After intermission came Midnight Blue’s performance. The a cappella group performed seven songs, and showed their strength of voices and confidence while they sang beautifully and included some dancing and parodies for the audience to laugh at. A special favorite of mine was “A Netflix World” sung to the tune of “A Whole New World”. A little too relatable, this song made me realize that I’m not alone in how much of life life is motivated or unmotivated by Netflix auto play.

Finally, the concert closed with songs about the University of Michigan, the classics that you hear at tailgates. The bond of sisterhood was evident here as alumnae joined the club onstage. Smiles and hugs were shared as the former members returned to their voice parts, and it was heartwarming to see how much the Women’s Glee Club meant to them even after they had graduated. I know that reconnecting with alumni and forming a base is something that the Women’s Glee Club is working to accomplish, and I think they are on their way to doing so if they maintain the atmosphere of sisterhood.

Overall a great concert, and I am always happy when I attend. I am glad that students are coming to support their friends in the club, and I hope the tradition continues as the Women’s Glee Club grows stronger.

PREVIEW: University of Michigan Women’s Glee Club Fall Concert

Who: The University of Michigan Women’s Glee Club and Midnight Blue

What: Fall Concert: Celebrating Sisterhood, Song, and Strength

When: Saturday, November 8 at 8:00pm

Where: Hill Auditorium

Why: Why? Because the Women’s Glee Club is a fantastic group of talented women. Their fall concert is sure to be an impressive mix of styles and sounds: something for everyone who wants to support this group. I am excited to hear what they have in store on Saturday.

How: This event is on this week’s Passport to the Arts, so be sure to pick one up for a free ticket if you can. If not, student tickets are only $5 and available at the door.

REVIEW: Women’s Glee Club Spring Concert

Compared to the noise and excitement in the diag yesterday (the first Saturday of April, if that means anything to you), the calm atmosphere set by the Women’s Glee Club’s second song was a welcome change. After opening with “The University”, per tradition, the women sang a composition by Gustav Holst of “Ave Maria” that quickly reminded all in attendance that we were no longer walking about on a sunny Saturday afternoon, we were sitting in a nearly acoustically perfect space listening to talented women sing meaningful music.

One thing that I very much appreciate about the Women’s Glee Club is that they are not trying to be the Men’s Glee Club. The men’s organization is older with a wider alumni base and a bigger reputation that precedes them, and this allows them to fill Hill Auditorium more easily. The women do not have that advantage, and I think that this encourages them to take risks that are to their benefit. They are willing to change up the formations they stand in, to use all parts of the stage, and really add life in the performance of their songs to a degree that is not always matched by the more solemn men (I’m referring especially to the songs “El Vito” and “Usilethela Uxolo (South Africa)”, which both incorporated movements around the stage that enhanced the songs). Neither is the correct way to hold a concert and both are fantastic groups, but I do wish to stress that what works for one is not always best for the other.

My favorite song from the afternoon was “Two Strings, But One Voice (O Sweetest of Songs)”. The voices of the Women’s Glee Club soared in this arrangement, and it filled the auditorium effortlessly. I got so many chills during this song, it was insane. If you’re interested, it sounded like this (that’s not the Women’s Glee Club, obviously, but they’re still pretty good).

I’m so glad I attended the Women’s Glee Club Spring Concert. I really don’t think I’m biased in any way when I say that these ladies deserve much more love and attention from the university. The more of their concerts I attend, the more I realize how lucky I was to be a part of them for a couple semesters because they are an impressive group. This concert was enjoyable from beginning to end, and I look forward to seeing their a capella octet, Midnight Blue, perform on Friday.