Fairy-tale scavenger hunt

Into the Woods

By Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine
Directed by Darleen Jaeger
Musical Direction by Jason Chase
Choreography by Christine van Kipnis
The Gallery Players
119 14th St., Brooklyn
Equity showcase (closes Oct.10) ([718] 595-0547)
Review by Julie Halpern

...And they all lived happily after after. Or did they? Have you ever wondered what really happened to your favorite fairy-tale characters? The Gallery Players' spirited revival of Into the Woods reminded us to beware of what we want - we may get it!

A young baker and his wife are distraught because they are unable to have children. They enter into a Faustian bargain with the witch next door, who promises to give them a child if they bring her a red cloak, a glass slipper, a milk-white cow, and a lock of golden hair within three days' time. During their search, they make the acquaintance of Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Rapunzel and convince them to give up these items. Like the baker and his wife, each of the fairy-tale characters, including the witch, also have wishes they want granted. Sadly, after all their dreams seem to have come true, the trouble begins.

Director Darleen Jaeger assembled a large, talented cast of singing actors, who brought the show's cardboard characters to life. Brittany Pixton as the Witch had a strong stage presence and sensual singing voice. Sinister and repulsive in the first part of the play, she metamorphosed into a stunning beauty - but paid the price by losing her magical powers. Todd Yard and Allison Mayne were attractive and earthy as the Baker and his wife. Mayne had a strong singing voice, and the likeable Yard was an impressive physical comedian. Petite Adriene Daigneault was an adorable, spunky Little Red Riding Hood, and Mark Bradley Miller offered a luxurious high baritone voice and seductively evil presence as the Wolf, but was less effective in his other role as Cinderella's Prince.

Emily Herring was a sympathetic, warm voiced Cinderella, whose voice soared in "No One is Alone." The rest of her family contributed excellent work, including Sylvia Biller's youthful, glamorous Stepmother, Michael Janove's doddering, in-his-cups Father, and Jessica Bashline and Erica Kane's uproarious stepsisters.

Wide-eyed, sweet-voiced Lydian DeVere was an ideal Rapunzel, and John Ayres's beautiful voice and strong physicality made his Rapunzel's Prince a real charmer. Nick Petrie was a pleasantly bumbling Jack, and Shelly Zipadelli was exceptionally compelling as Jack's Mother.

David Baida confidently presided over the evening's events as the Narrator and also gave an amusingly touching portrayal as the Mysterious Man. Judy Polcer and Skip Moore contributed strong work in smaller roles.

Director Jaeger maintained a high level of energy throughout the longish show. Musical director Jason Chase's four-piece orchestra created a lavish sound but never overpowered the actors. Christine van Kipnis's buoyant choreography gave the production an even higher level of polish. Alejo Vietti's gorgeous costumes, illuminated by Jim Hultquist's lighting, were a treat. Jo Cunningham's sound cues were too long and too loud. Michael Auszura's set was simple and accommodated the quick scene changes effectively.
Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing, musical direction, and choreography: 2
Acting: 2
Set: 1
Costumes: 2
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 1999 Julie Halpern