Ensemble produces standouts in Lee’s well-orchestrated ‘Into the Woods’

John Milewski - Connor Symons and Emiley Trowbridge

Robert E. Lee High School took audiences Into the Woods this past weekend. This musical, written by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, follows several well-loved characters from the Grimm fairytales on their journeys through the woods. The Baker and his wife are completing a quest for the Witch; Cinderella is attending a ball at the palace; Jack is off to sell his cow, Milky White, at the market; and Little Red Riding Hood is visiting her sick grandmother. The plot allows for all characters to interact with each other, and weaves one magical tale in the end.

Into the Woods opened on Broadway in 1987, and won three Tony awards: Best Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a Musical (awarded to Joanna Gleason as the Baker’s Wife). It ran again as a revival in 2002, successful for a second time. Since its time in New York, the show has been produced widely around the United States and Europe, and remains a favorite choice for high schools and other amateur theatre companies due to its large cast size and numerous female roles.

Preston Taylor appeared as the Baker, opposite Emily Kelly as the Baker’s Wife. The pair had a fluctuating chemistry as they made their way through the woods. Emily’s dedication to and connection with her character brought her to life and played as an honest and believable acting choice. The role of Cinderella was played by Courtney Cox. Her melodious singing voice was one of the strongest in the cast, and she established many strong relationships with other characters. Emiley Trowbridge portrayed the sweet but feisty Little Red Riding Hood, giving much truth to the role of a lovable if sometimes petulant child.

Notable supporting characters include Cinderella’s family: her stepmother (Danielle Payne) and stepsisters Florinda (Gale Kelly) and Lucinda (Kara Pepper). The three ladies created a comical and memorable ensemble. Vincent Zhao appeared as both the tale’s narrator and the Mysterious Man helping the Baker with his tasks. Vincent switched between roles easily, with clear character choices having been made for each.

The most detailed technical aspect of the production was its costumes. Each character had an evident color scheme which was fitting for each role – Little Red Riding Hood in red and white, the Baker and his Wife in brown, and Jack in green, for example. The costumes were well-constructed and appropriate for the fairytale world of the show. There was some inconsistency from the microphones used, as some actors were very easily heard and others were having trouble with their sound reaching the audience. However, actors with misbehaving microphones were able to compensate by projecting their voices, which helped to alleviate the issue.

The performance was lively and interesting, with many lyrically complicated songs being delivered with strength and clarity. There was a sense of unity in the cast and crew, which gave the show an energy and glow to keep the audience engaged. Robert E. Lee High School conducted their venture Into the Woods with talent and zeal.

 
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