Just in from attending the Fiasco Theater Company's touring ensemble of their Off-Broadway revival of Sondheim's "Into The Woods" at the Kennedy Center. WOW! I was the first personal to jump to my feet at the end, but I was not the last. Such a wonderful, high energy reimagining of the original with a pared down cast of 10 actors plus the piano player. Everyone but the Baker assumed two or more rolls. The vocal quality was outstanding across the board and the actors delivered the well-healed lines with a freshness and clarity that made so much of the production feel new and better.
I love this show so much that I was waiting for each song with great anticipation, and highlights included: "Hello Little Girl" performed by Anthony Chatmon II as the Wolf and Lisa Helmi Johanson as Little Red Ridinghood, "There Are Giants In The Sky" performed by Philippe Arroyo as Jack, and "No More" performed by Fred Rose as the Baker's Father and Evan Harrington as the Baker. The later being a surprise as it's not really one of the traditional show stoppers. The most consistently compelling cast members were Philippe Arroyo as Jack, Lisa Helmi Johanson at Little Red Ridinghood/Repunzel and Darick Pead who's Milky White politely stole every scene, and who's Repunzel's Prince and step-sister Florinda also gave you your money's worth. And honestly, everyone was amazing--these folks just had exceptionally good performances tonight.
|My Box Seat view of the stage|
You can see the sets were a collection of odd backstage objects became everything from a seamstress' dress form transformed to a magical tree where Cinderella's mother was buried to a stage ladder turning into Repunzel's tower. The music was primarily maintained by an onstage piano player who had an occasional narrator's line, but the actors themselves were suddenly playing the cello, or a trumpets, or a banjo or a bassoon! etc. And no one left the stage...they simply faded into the edges and when necessary made seamless costume changes. I have to say, no better way to spend Christmas evening in my book, and I splurged at purchased a box seat so that I would have my own comfortable chair to sit it, too.
As fate would have it, a rather eccentric slightly inebriated women had the chair next to mine... She arrived just before the show started and the gin on her breath sat down four steps before she did. She proceeded to retrieve items from her bag to keep a cocktail of her own concocting going throughout the show, but she was otherwise unobnoxious. I can appreciate a quiet alcoholic.