“Into the Woods”: An enchanting evening at the theater


Courtesy of Broadway in Chicago

Katy Geraghty stars as Little Red Riding Hood in Broadway in Chicago’s “Into the Woods.”

Wednesday evening’s performance of “Into the Woods” was a magical affair for all involved. Set inside the ornate James M. Nederlander Theatre, the show was a captivating combination of powerhouse vocals, sensational acting, extraordinary music and an unrivaled story. 

The famed musical follows a childless baker and his wife on their quest to break a curse that a witch has placed on their family. Throughout the show, the baker and his wife encounter characters from several different Brothers Grimm fairy tales, including “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Rapunzel” and “Cinderella.” 

The show has many strengths, but perhaps one of its greatest is the score. With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the sounds heard by the audience take on a life of their own. This particular production features an on-stage orchestra, allowing theater-goers to become even more enveloped in the story and its music. 

There was no shortage of starpower on the stage, and each scene was equally as enjoyable no matter which characters it featured. Whether it was the fierce Little Red Riding Hood (Katy Geraghty), the vain but hilarious duo of Cinderella’s Prince and Rapunzel’s Prince (Gavin Creel and Jason Forbach), the gullible Jack (Cole Thompson) and his exasperated mother (Aymee Garcia), or the lovable antics of Milky White and her puppeteer (Kennedy Kanagawa), each scene was just as memorable as the last. 

With such a wide variety of intersecting plotlines and songs like “Your Fault,” “I Know Things Now” and “Agony,” the audience was constantly entertained in different ways, from humor to grief to anger.

A special shoutout is in order for understudy Ellie Fishman, who was thrust into the role of Cinderella mid-show after Diane Phelan fell ill. Fishman did not miss a beat, literally running onto the stage in Cinderella’s ball gown to sing a rousing rendition of “A Very Nice Prince” without any time to prepare. Her curtain call at the conclusion of the show featured deafening cheers and a deservedly loud round of applause. 

Both Sebastian Arcelus and Ximone Rose excelled in their roles as the Baker and Baker’s Wife, respectively. The pair was able to capture the playfulness of their loving relationship while also making plain their desperation to break the witch’s curse.

The real show stopping performance came from Montego Glover as the Witch. Glover managed to be funny, evil and caring all at once, while also delivering some truly spectacular vocals. The witch’s final stand, complete with a flawless execution of “Last Midnight,” was a spine-tingling, goosebumps-inducing recital that solidified Glover’s performance as unforgettable. 

“Into the Woods” is a dazzling display of song, music and storytelling that solves the mystery of what happens after happily ever after. Make sure to catch a showing before the tour leaves Chicago on May 7. 

In the performance that I attended, Stephanie J. Block was out with a vocal strain so the role of ‘Baker’s Wife’ was played by Ximone Rose.