|the cast of Into the Woods (photo by Dan Norman)|
This cast is dreamy from start to finish, and the great thing about this musical is that it's a true ensemble piece, so all 15 of them have a moment to shine. While in years past I have been sometimes been disappointed to see so few locals in Guthrie productions, they've made up for it this year with a cast that is 2/3 local, including many local favorites from stages around town that are making their Guthrie debut (read about some of them here). It's a thrill to see this showcase of local talent, plus a few actors from around the country, including:
In an unexpected bit of casting, we have the divine Regina Marie Williams as the narrator and
I'll happily follow Regina Marie Williams
into the woods any day (photo by Dan Norman)
"mysterious man," and she's a delightfully wry storyteller. Dressed in modern jeans and blazer, she wanders through scenes explaining things and introducing characters, with great facial expressions reacting to whatever is happening.
- Broadway vet Lisa Howard is a deliciously evil witch, but also not-so-evil when she expresses her humanity in wanting to keep her daughter safe and return to her lost youth and beauty, unaware of the consequences.
- Robert Knight (one of the few non-locals) and Madeline Trumble (a recent and welcome transplant to the area) are a wonderful Baker and his wife, Robert with a warm voice and presence, Madeline hitting all the right notes emotionally and vocally.
- As if it's not enough that Sasha Andreev and John Yi are super fun as the ridiculously pompous princes, they both play additional roles - Sasha as the ravenous wolf, and John as the most human cow I've ever seen, peddling around on a tricycle as Milky White and giving her a personality I never knew she had.
- There's no one you want singing those long high Rapunzel runs more than opera-trained Anna Hashizume, who also doubles as Cinderella's mom in a tree.
- Suzie Juul is just as perfect as Little Red Riding Hood as she was 11 years ago in Theater Mu's production, still "bubbly and willful."
- Trevor James is an adorably naughty Jack, and #TCTheater favorite Kim Kivens (incomprehensibly making her Guthrie debut) brings all of her music-comedy skills to the roles of Jack's mom and Red's grandmother.
- Minnesota native Emily Tyra is making her professional #TCTheater debut after spending 15 years in other locales, and her strong performance as Cinderella makes me hope she won't stay away so long again.
- Much like he did recently in Hamlet, Max Wojtanowicz steals scenes as the Steward and Cinderella's pop.
- Last but not least we have the stepfamily - I'm not sure if they're evil or just wickedly funny - Kym Chambers Otto, Cat Brindisi, and Olivia Wilusz, with just the right amount of over-the-top.
- And as a bonus cast member, we get Greta Oglesby as the imposing voice of the giant, who played the witch in Theater Latte Da's 2015 production.
|Denise Prosek leads the orchestra as the witch|
(Lisa Howard) weaves magic (photo by Dan Norman)
|if the shoe fits... (photo by Dan Norman)|
The Guthrie's first summer musical in four years, Into the Woods is an all-around beautiful production of arguably the most popular musical from inarguably one of our best music-theater creators of all time. Stephen Sondheim's passing in late 2021 at the age of 91 seems to have inspired some theaters to program more of his work (see also Theater Latte Da's recent production of the much less frequently done Merrily We Roll Along). I hope it continues; the depth of his work is truly unparalleled. And it's not easy to do, but this cast, orchestra, and creative team make it look like it is. So put on your hiking shoes, pack a basket of sweets, stick to the path, and travel Into the Woods any or every day (except Mondays) now through August 13 (but don't forget your scarf!).