INTO THE WOODS
Melabeau Productions at Brentwood Theatre
Sondheim's Into The Woods is such a great choice for a youth group. It's a wonderful show by a master at the height of his game, with loads of wonderful roles.
Sondheim's Into The Woods is not such a great choice for a youth group. It presents huge challenges both dramatically and musically, and is not easy for the audience, either.
Melabeau fielded a very young cast, who successfully managed the style of the piece, with some very promising performances. Lots of dance, with corps-de-ballet trees, a great tap duet from the Wolf [Ellie Mead] and Shayley Robinson's “excited and scared” Little Red Riding Hood. Another impressive duet from the Principal Boy Princes Courtney-Lee Collins and Abigail Bliss.
Alfie Aves had superb presence as young Jack, Ella Catterick made a lovely operatic Rapunzel. The Baker and his wife, whose quest is the heart of the story, were confidently done by Clarke Peek-Pullum and Rosie Griffiths. Outstanding in the ensemble, for all sorts of reasons, Jimmy Fordham-Reed's Little Boy Blue, with his sparkly jazz shoes.
The production looked good, with inventive costumes [Cinderella, for instance] and a stunning reveal as the black tabs opened on a haunted forest with slender trees in front of a spooky back-drop.
Intonation was an issue for some of the young vocalists, and standing still is a skill worth learning. The narrator, Sophie Neal, had a huge task, not only talking us through the complex plot, but also trying to keep the momentum and the excitement alive.
Into The Woods was produced for Melabeau by Nick Campbell, and directed by Elaine Spires with musical direction by Julie Barker.
image by Czech photographer Janek Sedlar