BWW Review: INTO THE WOODS at Florida Repertory Theatre

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Florida Repertory Theatre Education’s Conservatory production of INTO THE WOODS by James Lapine puts a twist on a variety of classic fairytales.

The first plot line the show follows is the story of a baker (Samuel Pucin) and his wife (Talia Tumminello) as they try to break the curse placed on them by a witch (Sophie Hagan) in order to have a child. We also see the classic story of Cinderella (Rachel Burnes) as she attends a festival and runs from the prince (Patrick Agonito). Along the way we also see Rapunzel (Kylie Campbell) and her prince (Cameron Rodgers), who tries to rescue her from her tower. There is also the story of Little Red Riding Hood (Sophia Gurule at my performance) and her grandmother (Sophia Condit) and the wolf (Scotty Wells) who wants to eat them. Of course, we can’t forget about Jack (Caleb Massari) and his mother (Jesse Massari) and the beanstalk. Though this seems like a lot of storylines to follow, I actually think the show works very well. All of these characters head “into the woods” to try and find things they desire or need, and they often run into one another along the way.

This cast is excellent. It is a big cast, but I found that each actor had a moment to shine in the show, and I really appreciated that. Hagan’s portrayal of the witch was perfectly devious, and so fun to watch. Gurule’s portrayal of Little Red Riding Hood embodied the sweet innocence of the character. Pucin and Tumminello truly showed the audience their characters’ desperation to find what the witch needed so they could have a baby. I really could go on about each actor; the education students are so, so talented and professional. It’s always an absolute pleasure to see their performances.

Along with the cast, INTO THE WOODS has an amazing creative team. This set, designed by Nick Lease, was stunning. It’s by far the most intricate and beautiful set Florida Rep has had for an outdoor production. They even had a turntable for the actors to walk on as they went “into the woods,” and that was so unique and fun. Tony Toney designed all of the gorgeous costumes, and each one was so perfect for each character. This show also had projections designed by Rob Siler and Ben Lowe, and it was a big and very impressive part of the show. Katie Lowe and Josh Schact further brought this show to life with sound. And with Kody C Jones directing the show and Rosalind Metcalf as the musical director, everyone involved came together to create a great production.

This show isn’t about happy endings. A lot of twists and turns take place, and it’s really fun to see what comes next at every moment. There was a good amount of humor in the show while also having some rather dark moments. I enjoy this balance a lot. Yes, it is a longer show, but I don’t feel like it’s ever slow. And I can guarantee you will have songs from the show stuck in your head afterward.

Florida Rep’s outdoor area still feels very safe, with spaced out boxes for seating and masks required. I would absolutely head INTO THE WOODS with Florida Rep while it’s running, through next weekend. For more information and to buy tickets, click here: https://www.floridarep.org/the-season/conservatory-into-the-woods/

 

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