"Everyone had an incredible voice. It’s a difficult show to stage, and you guys pulled it off!"
Hettie Hurtes, KPCC News & Downtown News
A Mercurial Romp Into the Woods
at The Met Theatre
By Pamela Wilson
LOS ANGELES, CA - Although based upon familiar Brothers Grimm’s fairytales, Into the Woods now playing at The Met Theatre in Los Angeles is not written with children in mind. However, for grown-ups it is quite an entertaining treat! The unique Stephen Sondheim music and lyrics and the book by James Lapine are sophisticated and bawdy at the same time. Director Marco Gomez fashions a briskly moving musical with many memorable moments. The intimate Met Theatre is a fine setting for the show, allowing for natural instrumental and vocal sounds.
Into the Woods’ competent crew provides delights to the other senses as well. Upon entering the theater, one gets the feel for the story’s locale through the suggestion of a forest by patterned set pieces and trailing vines designed by Kai Cofer. This is enhanced by the sounds of the woods. The sound design by Cuca Esteves succeeds with the exception of a booming but quite distorted off-stage voice. At first blush, the lighting design by Louis Trent seems uneven and almost haphazard; but as the tale goes on, one can feel the dappling of the light between the trees. This interpretation is confirmed in the saucy Little Red Riding Hood’s (Denise Emery) reflective song “I Know Things Now.” For some audience members the sense of touch also comes into play – there is good-humored interaction with the theatergoers.
The Witch (Jacqueline Joy Marcus) and the Narrator and the Mysterious Man (Coby Pfaff) move the plot along at strategic points in the story. Ms. Marcus handles her part of the demanding Sondheim score competently and provides a well defined Witch. Mr. Pfaff is an amiable Narrator and Mysterious Man, but comes across a little soft spoken.
Fine characterizations were formed by Brian Mahoney (Jack), Lisanne Walker (Jack’s Mother), and both August Stoten (Cinderella’s Prince) and Blake Hogue (Rapunzel’s Prince). The Princes’ performances are witty and outrageous! Their number “Agony” and its reprise are hilarious! Jack’s Mother’s transformation cuts to the truth with broad comedic style along the way. Mr. Hogue is completely Jack, without a doubt, the innocent, befuddled farm boy whose only friend is Milky White (Kai Cofer), a surprisingly funny version of the cow.
Other members of the cast contribute to the interwoven fairytales. The lecherous, dangerous Wolf (Shawn Cahill) is indeed intimidating! His animal nature rages in each of his scenes! Mr. Cahill plays the Wolf with abandon. The Baker’s Wife (Cristina Dohmen) underplays the role and displays a lovely voice. Cinderella’s Wicked Step-Mother (Caroline Timm), Step-Sisters (Jennifer Fenten and Juliana Johnson), Father (Andres Miranda), and the Steward (Anthony Prichard) add slapstick to the show that is well received. Rapunzel (Heidi White) makes the most of the script’s sparse lines with her comic facial expressions and vocal inflections.
Outstanding renditions of their roles are created by Rachel Prescott as Cinderella and Ehren Schweibert as The Baker. Mr. Schweibert’s Baker is right on point with his acting, and his singing is pleasant and reveals much of the Baker’s character! Ms. Prescott sings and acts the part of Cinderella exquisitely, making the part her own with rich nuances of emotion and an excellent singing style – Sondheim as Sondheim must have intended!
Director and Choreographer Marco Gomez’s attention to detail and fun makes this outing a pleasure. Adding just as much value to the production are the elements contributed by Michael Mullen, the Costume Designer; Denise Emery, the Make-up Artist; and both as the Hair Dressers. Also, a special mention must be made of the excellent orchestra and musical direction by Dolf Ramos. The score requires precise instrumental music, and this group lives up to its charge!
Casting Director Anthony Treschi has assembled a fairly broad range of talent and experience in the individuals of this cast. Happily, they all blend together to shape the audience’s experience from silly to somber. It is an evening to be enjoyed! (Come a little early as late arrivers will not be seated until intermission.) Try to catch this fairytale-with-consequences before it is gone! - Pamela Wilson
Publicity for the theatre
P.O. Box 94387
Pasadena, CA 91109-4387
fax (626) 683-9172
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 9, 2006
Press/media contact: Philip Sokoloff, (626) 683-9205
IT’S A VERY DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE WHEN YOU GO “INTO THE WOODS” AT THE MET STARTING SEPTEMBER 29
WHAT: “Into The Woods.” The Tony Award winning musical.
WHO: Book by James Lapine. Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Directed by
Marco Gomez. Presented by the MET Theatre in association with DOMA Theater
Company and The Hope and Union Foundation. Choreography by Marco Gomez.
Musical direction: Dolf Ramos.
WHERE: The MET Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hollywood, CA 90029. This is one
block east of Western Avenue and a few steps south of Santa Monica Blvd. There
is free, stacked, secure parking ½ block east of the venue in the Earl Scheib lot.
WHEN: September 29- October 22, 2006. Fridays and Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 7.
ADMISSION: $30. Seniors and students, $20 (Use promo code 005 when requesting
senior or student discounts).
RESERVATIONS: (323) 960-1057.
ONLINE TICKETING: www.Plays411.com
* * * * * *
Librettist James Lapine and composer Stephen Sondheim both won Tony Awards (1988) for this enchanting show, which uses Grimm’s Fairy Tales as a jumping-off point for an exploration into the nature of human longings, the choices that we make in our lives, and their consequences. In a musical more aimed at adults than kids, but still suitable for family audiences, the stories of Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and the baker and his wife are seamlessly interwoven into a unified whole rather than told sequentially. All the stories deal somewhat with the fulfillment of wishes. As the old saying goes, “Be careful of what you wish for. You just might get it.” When objectives have been achieved, can happiness once attained long endure?
For this new mounting of this very popular musical, director Marco Gomez plans a new experience for the audience. The mainstage auditorium of the MET Theatre, larger than most local intimate theatres, is ideal for the presentation of an environmental experience, in which the actors will more directly interact with the audience than in previous productions of this show. Gomez also suggests that a different approach to some of the characters will be taken. For example, Red Riding Hood will be depicted much more flirtatiously than usual.
The cast includes (in alphabetical order): Shawn Cahill, Christina Dohmen, Denise Emery, Jennifer Fenten, Blake Hogue, Juliana Johnson, Brian Mahoney, Jacqueline Joy Marcus, Andres Miranda, Coby Pfaff, Rachel Prescott, Anthony Prichard, Ehren Schweibert, August Stoten, Caroline Timm, Lisanne Walker, and Heidi White.
Mr. Gomez is also an award-winning choreographer, a function he also performs for this production. He is Executive Vice Prseident of Doma Theater Company.
Dolf Ramos, President of Doma Theater Company, is musical director for “Into The Woods.” His other credits include “Cabaret,” “Lovers’ Mayhem,” “Fire On The Water,” and “Godspell.” He has sung on tour with Michael Crawford, Barbra Streisand’s Farewell Concert and tours with the St. Charles of Borromeo Choir under the direction of Paul Salamunovich. Also an actor, Ramos has appeared in “Cabaret,” “Into The Woods,” ‘Pericles, Prince of Tyre,” and “A Murder Is Announced.” He is also a composer, whose works include the music for the show “Lovers’ Mayhem.”
Doma Theater Company is a three-year-old organization dedicated to superlative production of musical theater. Its previous production include “Lovers’ Mayhem,” “The Wild Party,” and “Cabaret.” The MET Theatre welcomes Doma in this co-production, in which a couple of MET regulars are included in the cast.
“Into The Woods” won the Tony Award for best musical in 1998. The ensuing years have only burnished its luster. With this fresh approach to a classic, prepare yourself for a magical evening of musical enchantment.