“Into the Woods” is at Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts in Orlando this week, and this literally straight-from-Broadway production sizzles and snaps with laughs and a few heart-tugs.
The production is based on a book by James Lapine with Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics, and the story weaves the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tales of “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Cinderella,” “Rapunzel,” and “Jack and the Beanstalk,” all tied together by a story involving a childless baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family (the original beginning to “Rapunzel”) and their interaction with a witch who has placed a curse on them.
At nearly three-hours, it doesn’t feel like it’s too long, and that’s due to several things:
- A take on the serious themes of the iconic fairy tales that isn’t afraid to let the humor loose, even when it’s slightly inappropriate.
- Direction from Lear deBessonet, who could win a Tony Award for the show, which keeps the production of a Broadway quality, even though it’s on tour.
- The cast, featuring leads Montego Glover (the Witch), Gavin Creel (doing double-duty as Prince Charming, and The Wolf), Sebastian Arcelus and Stephanie J. Block as the Baker and his Wife, and Katy Geraghty (Little Red Riding Hood), were giving 110% at all times, helping to tell the story both singing and with their body movements.
In fact, the entire cast was so good it was hard to single out a favorite or two, but I do need to give nods to Geraghty who was a hilarious child-like terror, Creel who was subtly sassy as both the Prince and the Wolf, Glover for her amazing voice, and Block who veered delightfully from meek and responsible to a wanton single-minded woman on a mission.
Plus an extra nod to understudy Ellie Fishman who stepped into the role of Cinderella on opening night and was wonderful.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t single out Jack’s cow, Milky White, who stole almost every scene it was in thanks to its puppeteer Kennedy Kanagawa. Those side-eyes!
“Into the Woods” is one of the best productions to grace the Walt Disney Theater stage since the Dr. Phillips Center opened, and you definitely don’t want to miss this fun night at the theater.
The show is in Orlando until this Sunday, June 11, 2023, and it’s the only Florida stop on the limited tour. Tickets (which start at $49.75) and more information can be found at DrPhillipsCenter.org.
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