Into the Woods – The Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, PA
April 19, 2016
Review by: Lea Harlev of Archmere Academy
Almost every child grows up hearing whimsical fairy tales where the heroes end up happy and the villains are punished in the end, but this is not how real life works. The Baldwin School demonstrated a more comprehensive view of reality through fairy tales as they presented the tantalizing musical, Into the Woods.
With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods premiered on Broadway in 1987 and dazzled audiences. This musical utilizes well-known fairy tales, such as Cinderella and Rapunzel, to tell a new story of a baker and his wife’s shared quest to have a child. The different stories become interwoven as the characters interact with one another and challenge hackneyed tropes within fairy tales.
This production was especially unique as it was performed by a completely female cast. The actresses who played the traditionally male roles did an excellent job and the unconventional casting choices within this production did not disrupt the overall story. The cast as a whole embraced their version of Into the Woods and sold it to the audience.
A standout number was “Agony” performed by Ishana S and Sarai Brown-Alexander, who played Cinderella and Rapunzel’s princes, respectively. This song was comical and lovely to listen to as the two actresses sang and harmonized soulfully in their lower registers. Additionally, Alexa Kent, playing the Wolf, showed a great devotion to her creepy character in the chilling number “Hello, Little Girl.”
The Baker and the Baker’s Wife, played by Emily Thompson and Mariana Leone were a dynamic duo as they displayed great chemistry throughout the production. Leone’s performance, in particular, was stunning; her gorgeous vocal abilities, combined with the commitment to her character throughout the show, was impressive. Lauren Fosnocht, portraying the Witch, also performed wonderfully; her passion throughout the musical was extraordinary and her vocals were powerful and expressive.
The crew within this production should be commended. The set was an intricate space resembling an attic and the actresses were able to interact with most of the set pieces. There were many quick lighting changes that the crew almost always made on time, as well as many fast microphone changes taking place as actresses constantly entered and left the stage.
Overall, this refreshing production of the classic musical Into the Woods, performed by The Baldwin School, gave audience members their own “Happy Ever After.”
Review by: Marissa Emerson of Upper Merion Area High School
Go into the woods to find the thing that makes it worth the journeying . . . and The Baldwin School definitely qualifies! Their recent rendition of this theater favorite was a spectacle of imagination and creativity!
Into the Woods came to Broadway in 1987 and received multiple Tony Awards, including Best Book and Best Score. This Stephen Sondheim production follows a Baker and his wife as their lives become entangled with classic fairy tale characters like Little Red Riding Hood, Jack (from “Jack and the Beanstalk”), and Cinderella.
The entire ensemble was comprised of females, making The Baldwin School’s interpretation of the show especially unique. The energy on stage was consistent from all, and vocal talent was abundant. Stand out ensemble member Roya Alidjani (Jack’s Mother) carried herself with a comical, over-dramatic air throughout the show, and her outstretched arms and enlarged eyes made her hilarious, even in death.
Lauren Fosnocht (The Witch) had the powerhouse voice of the show. From singing “Witch’s Lament” through tears to ferociously belting out “The Last Midnight,” Fosnocht brought her A-game and portrayed both sides of the witch, both the old woman and the young enchantress, with enviable ease. Mariana Leone (The Baker’s Wife) contrasted Fosnocht’s voice with a sweet, warm tonality. Leone’s ability to stay in character while not at the forefront of a scene was admirable.
While the show has heavy themes, Ishana S (Cinderella’s Prince) and Sarai Brown-Alexander (Rapunzal’s Prince) handed the audience comedy on a silver platter. Ishana’s first moments on stage included dramatic hair flips and suggestively removing her sunglasses, while Brown-Alexander strutted across the stage with swinging arms ablaze. Their delivery of “Agony” came with equal parts yearning for love and hilarious arm gestures, hip motions included.
The set of the show was incredible! Based on an old attic, the space was filled with aged suitcases, boxes, clocks, and instruments. The show was even opened by Melia Hagino (Narrator/Mysterious Man), who, in the darkness of the theater, swung an old flashlight around the set, showing the audience just how eerie the inviting set could become. The lighting of the show was cleverly done and, while the timing was sometimes abrupt, the execution enhanced the overall quality of the show.
The Baldwin School cast of Into the Woods was extraordinary! Their production made ordinary fairy tales teachers of life lessons and distinguished their rendition as more than just an ordinary “Moment in the Woods.”