Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Into The Woods"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


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entire contents copyright 2003 by Tony Annicone

"Into The Woods"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The University of Rhode Island's current show is Stephen Sondheim's "Into The Woods". A charming group of classic fairy tale characters romp through a "happily ever after" kingdom" in this musical. Interweaving a hilarious mix of Cinderella, Little Red Ridinghood, The Baker's Wife, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel in a multilayered plot which ends happily in Act One, the show then explores whether there really is a Happily ever after in Act Two as previous actions of the characters come back to haunt them with a vengeance. Director Paula McGlasson chooses the best 19 cast members and musical director Lila Kane teaches the extremely difficult Sondheim score to them to create a magical evening of entertainment to be enjoyed by adults as well as children. Paula and Jaci Marfuggi, a student, supply the intricate choreography to keep the cast on their toes throughout the performance.

The impressive set is by Christian Wittwer. It consists of three houses rolling on and off and being flown out as well as the woods setting complete with trees helps the audience get the fairy tale ambiance as soon as they enter the theater. main character in this show is a witch who runs in and out of all the tales. Elizabeth Gotauco plays this huge role with ease. She brings a lot of depth to this role especially when she transforms herself from old hag to young beauty. Her fury and evilness comes through as the hag and her warmth is shown in her songs "Stay With Me" and "Lament". The latter takes place after the giant kills her adopted or rather stolen daughter, Rapunzel. Her fury at the happenings in the second act come through in "Last Midnight", a powerful song of warning to those people left alive. Elizabeth interacts beautifully with her fellow castmates.

David Howard and Erin Olson play the baker and his wife wonderfully. They balance the humor and pathos of their characters throughout the show. David's voice soars in the poignant ballads, "No More" and "No One is Alone" while Erin shines in "Moments in the Woods" which she sings after her tryst with Cinderella's Prince. The humorous moments occur as they search for the four items which will end the curse on his family of not being able to have children. David also designed the mutitude of costumes for the show and as usual they are not only authentic but gorgeous, too. Cinderella is played by Tifffany Page who is a stunning brunette. Her soprano voice is lovely to listen to especially in "No One is Alone". Her strong acting ability carries off this well known character as she goes from rags to riches and back to rags again, showing wealth doesn't always bring you the happiness you think it might. Great job.

Jenette DelMonaco as Little Red Riding Hood and Patrick Lynch as Jack as hoots in their parts. They do a remarkable job with the difficult songs and their numerous lines. Jenette plays the young innocent girl with flair and when she pulls a knife out to defend herself, it is a laugh out loud moment. She gives this young girl a backbone and does a great job with her solo, "I Know Things". Patrick has many funny lines as the dumb boy who trades the cow for beans but he also shows off his tenor voice in the solo, "Giants in the Sky". (His cow, Milky White is on wheels and has to be seen to be believed especially when they feed it a red cloak.) My favorite song in the show is "Agony" which is done in Act 1 because they suffer because they don't have the girl yet and in Act 2 because they have grown tired of them because they are their wives. It is sung dynamically by the two princes, Donald Dallaire and Ryan Romanowski. They not only have excellent voices but they act them with the right amount of regal pomposity and they also strut about the stand while striking poses befitting royalty. ( In another funny scene Donald plays the wolf who eats Granny and Ridinghood but gets killed by the Baker.)

The narrator/ Baker's father is played by student, Dan DaCunha while Jack's mother is played by veteran RI actress Anita Cipolla. Dan weaves the the scenes of the play together and appears in and out of other scenes as the mysterious man. In the latter role he annoys the others by his strange behavior. Dan shows off his singing voice in the duet with David on "No More". Anita does a wonderful job as the nagging mother of Jack who becomes rich later after he robs the giant of his wealth. She's a natural born comedienne who is always a joy to watch. The wicked stepmother is skillfully played by co-choreographer, Jaci Marfuggi who makes her a sexy vamp. She does a great job in this bitchy role and is hilarious when she chops off her daughter's toes and heels so they will fit the golden slipper. Her henpecked husband is played by lanky Ian Richardson while the two whining and spoiled daughters are played by Jillian Blevins and Kayla Daly. They all add to the humor of their scenes. Nathalie DelVecchio plays the long suffering Rapunzel while Alison Kantrowich plays Granny, the female Giant and other humorous roles. Rounding out this talented cast is Francis RTM Boyle as the snooty steward , Christi Chiello as Snow White and Haley Hanson as Sleeping Beauty. So for a fun filled evening of musical entertainment for the whole family, be sure to catch "Into The Woods" at URI

"Into The Woods" (13 - 22 November)
1 (401)874-5843

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide