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Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Into the Woods
Organization Roseville Theatre Arts Academy
Date(s) of show September 28 - October 20, 2012
Reviewer Dick Frantzreb
Review Iíve seen Stephen Sondheimís Into the Woods before, and Iíve felt I didnít like it. The trouble is I hadnít seen a really good production. And this is not a good production: it is a brilliant one. It is Roseville Theatre Arts Academyís first show with adult actors, and it is bursting with pent-up creative energy. I was impressed first with the acting from this remarkable assemblage of talent. In particular I was delighted by the characterizations of Little Red Riding Hood by Elizabeth Poore, the Witch by Erin Gabrielle, the Wolf by Tristan Rumery, and the Princes by Rumery and Byron Roope. But the whole cast plays their parts with verve, and it is a special pleasure to watch (and listen to) Christi Axelson as the Bakerís Wife. The clever dialog is great fun, and last night one could tell it resonated with the audience from the frequent laughter.

That brings me to the music. Iíve seen musicals with a few good singers, and quite a few mediocre ones. Not here. These are all strong Ė sometimes even elegant Ė singers. I must say that I donít believe there is a single hum-able tune in the whole show; yet the songs are engaging. Sondheimís wordy and witty lyrics are delivered almost flawlessly, and I found myself in awe of how individual singers were able to carry out the interplay of the fast-paced snippets of lyrics that they exchange in so many of the songs. Even more impressive is the tight coordination with the pit musicians, led by Music Director Jennifer Vaughn on piano, and whose efforts make the music in this musical such a success.

I should add that the set itself is extraordinary Ė much more elaborate than I anticipated Ė and with some delightful, unexpected effects. Another pleasant surprise is the costumes. The quality of so many of the other elements of this show is matched by artistry of the costuming.

The presentation of this well-loved, frenetic, clever, cerebral show that I saw on opening night has to be viewed as a triumph for Director Michelle Raskey, the wonderfully talented cast, and the whole staff who gave their all for this first ďMain StageĒ production at Roseville Theatre Arts Academy.

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