By Mary Boyle
The name Stephen Sondheim is synonymous with musical theater: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Follies, Sweeny Todd, Sunday in the Park with George and, of course, Into the Woods. Interestingly, both Sweeny Todd and Into the Woods have been given a boost in popularity in recent years thanks to Johnny Depp, who played the lead in 2007's Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and made an appearance as the wolf in 2014's Into the Woods. While there's never a bad time to choose Sondheim, Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove was wise to take advantage of the popularity and choose Into the Woods for their lineup this season.
Directed by Nate C. Adams, with Music Direction by Mark Mrozek, Into the Woods is a combination of some of our favorite fairy tales (Rapunzel, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood) all rolled into one story. The one thing each of these classic tales have in common is a wish: Rapunzel (Lydia Rose Eiche) wishes to leave her tower, the Baker (Nathan Marinan) and his wife (Carrie A. Gray) wish for a child, Cinderella (Hannah Esch) wishes to go to the ball, and Jack (Simon Earle) and his mother (Paula Garcia) wish for wealth. Throw in a Witch (Laura Monagle) to grant those wishes, a snarky little girl in a red cape (Ella Rose Kleefisch), a couple of princes (Seven Sizer and Kevin Gadzalinski), a wicked stepmother (Barbi McGuire) and a couple of terrible stepsisters (Ashley Patin and Sarah Briana Monahan, and a charismatic narrator (Bob Carroll) and you've got yourself a really good story.
By the end of Act I, Jack and his mother are wealthy (and Jack and his cow are reunited); the curse on the Baker is broken; both Cinderella and Rapunzel marry their respective princes, and their tormentors are punished; and, Little Red Riding Hood has a much-needed attitude adjustment after she and her Grandmother are saved from the belly of the wolf. Everything appears to end "happily ever after," as they say...but does it really? Into the Woods brings a hefty dose of reality — and comedy — to these idyllic stories, and Sunset Playhouse brings an incredibly talented cast to tell the tale. As the witch says, "Children will not obey, but children will listen. Careful the wish you make, wishes are children."
Into the Woods runs through March 18th at the Furlan Auditorium at Sunset Playhouse, located at 800 Elm Grove Rd. in Elm Grove. Tickets are available by calling (262) 782-4430, in-person at the box office, or online at http://www.sunsetplayhouse.com.
About Sunset Playhouse
Over the past 60 years, Sunset has benefitted from the leadership of Ian Dobbie, Alan Furlan, Michael Spicer, Thomas Somerville, Michael Duncan, Mark Salentine, Jonathan West, Diana Alioto, and our current Artistic Director, Nancy Visintainer-Armstrong. The theater’s staff consists of an Education Director, Technical Director, Business Manager/Volunteer Coordinator, Administrative Assistant, Box Office Manager, Box Office Associates, and Theater Technicians. In addition, Sunset benefits from a large pool of talented and dedicated volunteers who work in conjunction with these professionals and are essential to the on-going success of the Playhouse. Sunset is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the membership.
Sunset produces eight Furlan Auditorium Productions per season consisting of comedies, mysteries, musicals, and dramas. The Playhouse is also home to three professional series–Musical MainStage Concert Series, with six concerts each season, a six-show cabaret series titled SideNotes Cabaret Series, and a three-show children’s series called Bug in a Rug.