The iconic musical “Into the Woods” made its debut show at the Fullerton Stage at The Theatre School on Nov. 3, and DePaul’s production blew Cinderella out of her slippers.
“Into the Woods” is meant to spin fairytales on their head and look beyond the happily ever after. The musical follows Cinderella, Rapunzel, a baker and his wife, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack from “Jack and the Beanstalk” as they leave the comfort of their homes and go deep into the woods in the search of making their wishes come true. The narrator warns the audience throughout about the dangers of making a wish too big.
The musical originally debuted in 1986 and has taken the theater world by storm with its quirky humor and original storyline. A star-studded Disney screen adaptation of “Into the Woods” was released in 2014, raking in a mediocre 71 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, showing that nothing can beat the feeling of watching this show on the stage.
The musical started with the well-known “I Wish” song, where the main characters are introduced and singing about their problems. The narrator, in his official and smooth voice, gives a backstory of why the characters are so miserable, setting the stage for the chaos that is about to happen.
The first half of the musical is full of hopeful tunes and joyous characters who are just looking to fulfill their wildest dreams. Cinderella (Delaney Feener) and Rapunzel (Marian van Noppen) truly took the stage by storm with their vocals, belting songs of love and loss as they try and avoid, or get closer to, their princes. The baker (Jayson Lee) and his wife (Katie Travers) elicited laughs as they trekked through the woods in search of the ingredients to make a spell and work on their relationship.
The second half of the play fell flat, though. This part of the story was supposed to focus on what happens when “happily ever after” is over and real-life sets in. Though the visual aspects of this show truly shined throughout the second half, the ability for the actors to convey the emotion was lost. When the characters had lost everything, and were desperately trying to scrounge up any hope that was left to defeat the thing threatening to destroy their home, the actors showed minimal emotion.
Scenes that should have left tears in audience’s eyes instead left an awkward feeling that the song had went on too long and the emotions were too fake to feel real. If the play had ended at the first act, or if the actors carried the feeling and emotionally-charged performances that were seen in the first act, then the play would have been world better. The second act just left a dry and bored performance for audiences to watch.
“Into the Woods” was more than just it’s vocal and acting performances. Audiences also got to see how much effort the crew put into the production with dark and mangled trees, sound effects and bright and flashing lights that draw the audience in and make them feel like they are lost in the woods with the beloved fairytale characters.
The costumes were arguably the best part of the play. The men of the play wore revealing and telling outfits — from the wolf who showed his chest through a fur jacket to the rhinestone cups that the princes wore. The women wore elegant and colorful attire that looked as if they had come straight from a Broadway play. The attire was able to take the play from looking like a minimal-budget high school production to a musical that looks put-together and professional, a bonus for the actors and audience alike.
Overall, the hard work and dedication that went into making this musical a success on a number of different levels truly showed in the performance, and it’s definitely worth taking an evening to go and watch. The Theatre School will be playing “Into the Woods” until Nov. 12. Tickets are $15 and student tickets are $5. Catch this play at the Fullerton Stage before it disappears back into the woods.