Author: dfilas // Category: Review RoundupBoth reviewers agree that Weathervane Playhouse’s Into the Woods will leave you feeling happily ever after. Weathervane Playhouse presents Into the Woods at the Mary A. Alford Memorial Pavilion located at 100 Price Road, Newark, Ohio. Shows start at 8:00 p.m. July 2-3 and July 8-11, and at 7:00 p.m. on July 4. Tickets range in price from $15 to $23 and are available at the box office before the show or for purchase online. For more information about this show or the upcoming shows this season, please visit the Weathervane Playhouse website or call the box office at (740) 366-4616.
|Into the Woods Worth the Trip Out to the Woods
Little Red (Logan Baker) and The Baker (Jonathan Bragg) share a plate of cookies unaware The Witch (Sara Michalski) is close at hand. Weathervane’s production of “Into The Woods.” Photograph courtesy of Matt Upchurch, MVproductions.
by Krista Threadgill
This past Thursday evening, Weathervane Playhouse opened the latest production in their 41st summer season with the Stephen Sondheim favorite Into the Woods, an ambitious undertaking for any theatre company. I am thrilled to report that this is a show well worth seeing. There isn’t a bad seat in the house at the partially-enclosed pavilion tucked away in the small town of Newark. It’s a bit of a hike for some Columbus natives, but once the show starts, you’ll forget all about the long drive.
Matthew Trombetta directs Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning musical, set in an enchanted forest where the Narrator (Dennis Kohler) introduces some familiar characters: Cinderella (Kirstin Flagor), her evil stepmother (Carolyn Clippinger) and taunting stepsisters (Maggie Taylor and Lisa Anfield); Little Red Ridinghood (Logan Baker), her Granny (Carolyn Redman) and a hungry Wolf (Morgan McCann); the local baker (Jonathan Bragg), his wife (Katherine DeBoer) and their neighbor, the Witch (Sara Michalski; young Jack (Raymond Havey), his mother (Belinda Paisley), and the family’s aging cow, Milky White (Marisa Riegle); the lovely Rapunzel (Samantha Mastrian); and two charming princes (McCann and Jesse Adam Koza). Spellbinding melodies and a fast-paced plotline keep the audience riveted to this story about wishes—and the consequences that arise from a wish fulfilled.
The ensemble cast is outstanding in this production. The primary female cast members—Flagor, DeBoer, Baker, Mastrian and Michalski—have lovely singing voices and great stage presence. Although Reigle’s character doesn’t speak, her expressive face and balletic movement make Milky White an audience favorite. The men don’t disappoint either. McCann’s duet with Baker, “Hello, Little Girl” is one of the standout pieces for a little-seen character in the Wolf. His duets with Koza in “Agony” and the reprise are both fantastic with the right amount of real emotion and self-deprecating humor. The singing for all is polished and understandable. The actors also embody their characters well, and watching them learn and grow through the course of the play is moving and poignant.
Tory Depew’s costumes convey the storybook feel needed for this play, adding just the right amount of sparkle and whimsy. Adam Liston’s sets are beautifully designed. The lighting (designed by Jennifer Sansfacon) and the pyrotechnics add to the magical and mysterious themes of the show without feeling too overdone. There was some trouble in the first act on opening night when the orchestra, under the musical direction of Cheridy Keller, was so loud that the actors couldn’t easily be heard; this was rectified during intermission, however, and the second act was much better balanced.
If you do make it out to Newark to see this production, there are a few things to keep in mind: The play runs just under 3 hours with a 15-minute intermission between acts. If you’re hungry, the concession stand is pretty good and not expensive at all; however, you’ll need to bring cash since they don’t accept credit cards. Also, there’s a ton of construction on 161 in their neck of the “woods” right now. The detours are pretty obvious, so trust the road signs. All that notwithstanding, this is an excellent production. Take the plunge and go. After all, “anything can happen in the woods”!
Krista Threadgill spent her childhood following her parents around the Actors Guild of Parkersburg. After that, she wiled away her summers at Jenny Wiley Amphitheater, and she has performed in two Neil Simon plays. She has an English degree from the Ohio State University.
|Weathervane Strikes Delightful Chord with Into the Woods
Little Red (Logan Baker) adventures through the wood with The Witch (Sara Michalski) close behind in Weathervane’s production of “Into The Woods.” Photograph courtesy of Matt Upchurch, MVproductions.
by Tahrea Maynard
Weathervane Playhouse opens Into the Woods this holiday weekend, delivering a performance worthy of Broadway. From the acting, to the singing, and the production values, the Newark-based professional summer stock company delivers powerhouse entertainment well worth the trek out of Columbus.
In Act I, the audience is introduced to the classic, yet reimagined fairy tales of Cinderella (Kirstin Flaglor), Jack (Raymond Havey) of Beanstalk fame, Little Red Riding Hood (Logan Baker), Rapunzel (Samantha Mastrian), and a Baker and His Wife (Jonathan Bragg, Katherine DeBoer). What ties all of these characters together is their wishes, each longing for uniquely personal desires. In Act II, the stories continue past the usual “Happily Ever After” conclusions, climaxing delightfully to reveal chaotic hilarity and lessons well learned.
Though this production boasts a cast of 20 talented performers, each adding to the magic of the story, several characters steal audience members’ hearts. Morgan McCann certainly grabs attention as the creepy, villainous Wolf, singing “Hello, Little Girl” as he drools over the naive and sweet Little Red Riding Hood, played by the adorable young Baker. Juxtaposed to the vile Wolf, McCann’s version of Cinderella’s Prince may leave several female audience members, this reviewer included, swooning in the aisles with his one-two-punch of handsome looks and a richly toned voice. Paired with Jesse Adam Koza, his brother and Rapunzel’s Prince, the two inspire peals of laughter with their rendition of “Agony.”
Another performer to stand out in the cast is Sara Michalski as the witch behind most of the magic and mischief throughout the story. In Act I she is introduced as an old hag, particularly repugnant in appearance. Yet, her touching performances in “Stay with Me” and “Children Will Listen” will reach hearts and eventually overcomes first impressions to finally win over the audience with a smart and endearing performance.
One would be remiss in not mentioning the performances of Brag and DeBoer. Vocal performances by these two are outstanding. Their chemistry as the husband and wife characters is believable as, together, they struggle against the obstacles that lie before them in their efforts to have a child. The depth and commitment they bring to the role adds a poignant layer to the mix.
One wonderful characteristic about “Into the Woods” is this sort of reality inserted within all the fantasy, making the stories all the more believable. Weathervane’s production certainly capitalizes on this, even with the set and lighting, thanks to Scenic Designer Adam Liston. Looking onto the stage, audience members will forget where they are as the set is crafted with trees, branches, and the occasion gust of smoke float about the stage increasing the sense of a realistic forest. All moments , touching or scary are complemented well with the moody lighting, designed by Jennifer Sansfacon. Costuming also plays a big part in making the stories believable, and Tory Depew certainly made sure the costumes balance between fantastic and realistic. Each character’s costume giving a fairy tale feel without be too “costume-y.” Bravo! Insightful, creative director Matthew Trombetta certainly should be proud of such a successful production.
Note that the production may be enjoyed by younger children, but is rated PG-13. Younger children may be slightly frightened by spontaneous and loud sound effects, surprising entrances, and some pyrotechnics.
Tahrea Maynard has spent the majority of her life onstage, appearing on stages with such Central Ohio theatres as Roundtown Players and Rosebriar Shakespeare Co. She also teaches Musical Theatre classes with the Charmion Performing Arts Center in Circleville. Check out her blogs here and here.