Theater Info for the Washington DC region

J.E.B. Stuart High School Into the Woods

By • May 7th, 2012 • Category: Cappies

If you went Into the Woods what would you expect to find? A young, determined boy destined to grow the largest beanstalk? An innocent, soon to be princess yearning to find her true love? A poor baker and his wife hoping to raise a child even when all odds appear to be set against them? These are just a few characters you might have encountered while watching J.E.B. Stuart High School’s production of Into the Woods.

Written by James Lapine with music by Stephen Sondheim, this musical premiered on Broadway in 1987, winning a plethora of Tony Awards in the following categories: Best Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a musical. This music heavy show intertwines the traditional fairy tale stories from Cinderella to Jack and the Beanstalk to Little Red Riding Hood, giving a modern twist to the average children’s story. Focusing primarily on Jack, Cinderella and the Baker and his wife, these characters desperately try to pursue their own dreams despite the challenges they face within the woods. However, they ultimately learn that they must rely on each other in order to reach their own aspirations they have so long desired.

The large cast at J.E.B. Stuart High School rose to the challenge of taking a difficult, music heavy show and bringing it to life. Each actor brought their own, unique interpretation to each of the fairy tale creatures and was successful in engaging the audience in this upbeat musical. Whether prancing through the aisles or trumpeting around on stage, each character differentiated in their physicality making certain scenes enjoyable to watch.

A strong and consistent character throughout the entirety of the show was the Baker’s Wife played by Mariana Barbosa. Her beautiful and mellifluous voice helped make duller and less energized scenes much more interesting. Her commitment to character was evident whether she was singing a solo or remaining in the background only to chip in for a few lines. In addition, her chemistry with the Baker, played by Sam Khalaji was apparent especially in their song “It Takes Two” and their interaction was very sincere and heartwarming.

Another pair that helped give the traditional fairy tale a modern twist was Cinderella, played by Hillary Leersnyder and her prince, played by Joe Dubas. Their quirkiness and charm gave dry scenes more humor and interest. Similarly, Jack played by Joshua Okada and his mother, played by Lenny Mendez, equally brought dedication to their roles with their projection and physicality.

Technically, the costumes were exquisitely crafted, bringing to life each of the personalities of all the fairy tale characters. Whether it was an extravagant ball gown like Cinderella’s or a more reserved outfit suited for the Baker’s wife, each costume adequately represented the characters outrageous traits and qualities. In addition, set changes were overall quick and efficient; however, at times they took attention away from the scenes happening on stage.

The cast and crew of J.E.B. Stuart High School rose to the challenge of taking a demanding and difficult production and making it creative, unique, and magical.

by Monica Thapa of Freedom High School

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