Fiasco Theater has reimagined Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Tony winner Into the Woods for McCarter Theatre audiences. This is a musical of four intertwining Grimm’s fairy tales, of which all characters are simultaneously led into the woods, but Fiasco has put its own spin on it.
The classic fairy tale adaptations include Cinderella, Jack and the Bean Stalk, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel. The newer story of the Baker and His Wife, created just for Into the Woods, ties the other tales together for a magical romp on the intimate Berlind stage. We get the typical Disney happily ever after at the end of the first act. The second act shows us what happened after we close the book, with darker elements that are closer to the original German story lines.
The troupe of 10 actors play 18 characters, with large doses of humor. A couple of male actors occasionally play females, cementing the comedic tone. Co-directors Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld are both triple threats, as they also flex their acting and singing muscles on the stage. There are no set changes, but props are constantly in use and repurposed to add to the farce, as is the lighting and sound effects.
The performances were brilliant. Patrick Mulryan develops the naïve Jack as a sympathetic character who tries to please his mother (Liz Hayes) and get back his beloved cow Milky White, who is hilariously played by Andy Grotelueschen. The baker (Steinfeld), and his wife, Jessie Austrian, are charming as they stealthily manipulate others to gain access to their own happiness, and Jennifer Mudge, as the witch, subtly deceives us all.
Into the Woods is laugh out loud funny, and the cast’s delivery was perfectly executed. The entire ensemble offer us a pure form of acting that is stripped of the Broadway glitz, and exposes their polished skills. Their talents also include playing instruments along with the pianist, Matt Castle.
This is a fantastic production of Into the Woods that is worth seeing. It’s running time is 2.5 hours with a 15 minute intermission. The first act runs 1.5 hours, and can feel long for some.
There will be an autism-friendly performance on Tuesday, May 21st at 7 PM, with autism specialist staffing, modifications to sound and lighting, $25 ticket prices, and staffed relaxation and activity areas in the lobby. Other special evenings are Pride Night on May 16th, the After Dark Party on May 17th, Dinner and Theater on May 29th, and an ASL (American Sign Language) Interpreted Performance on June 1 st.
Its run has been extended from June 2nd until the 9th. Tickets are selling out quickly, so head into town now to get your tickets at the McCarter Theatre Box Office or purchase them online.