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Port Tobacco Players Into the Woods

By • May 16th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Into the Woods
Port Tobacco Players
Port Tobacco Players Theatre, La Plata, MD
Through June 10th
2:30 with one intermission
$17/$14 Seniors, Youth, Military (+ fees)
Reviewed May 14th (Preview), 2012

Once upon a time there was an Evil Queen who wished for a son-in-law. She kvetched to her Magic Mirror, aka Yetta “Do I read you like a book, Manya?” Moscowitz, “I have everything: health, wealth, comfort and a Shrewish Princess… …everything but the son-in-law.” Said Yetta, “Vill my Monty do? Hev a piece of kugel, Darlink. I just made it. I tell you ….tell the Shrewish Princess if she dahsn’t brink you a sahn in low in tree midnights you going into the voods…to Brooklyn…to buy von.” Of course Yetta’s Monty wouldn’t do, he’s an idiot and a Brooklyn son-in-law would take away her bacon; so the Evil Queen went into the woods to find the Shrewish Princess and give her the three midnights ultimatum. The Shrewish Princess knew that the Evil Queen always got what she wished for and her will is written in pencil; so the SP went into the woods…to Fort Worth…and came upon a very smart, but solitary, Prince willing to agree to the SP’s contract terms, “I don’t work, I don’t clean and I don’t have children.” So everyone got what they wished for but no one was happy because all three, in any combination, inherited….. a second Evil Queen.

Be careful what you wish for…you might get it.

Stephen Sondheim understood wishes and that one could have everything and nothing at the same time. He worked through his lifelong complexes by partnering with James Lapine and creating a musical analysis of classic Fairy Tales called Into the Woods, the current endeavor by the well-regarded Port Tobacco Players.

Director Brooke L. Howells suffers from an embarrassment of riches as she works to get the curtain up on her show. This reviewer saw a dress rehearsal on the first night of a Tech Week full run of the show and the early indications are that this will be a wowie, zowie, elegant show. Into the Woods is not this reviewer’s favorite show, but PTP’s production is smart and pleasing.

Howells has assembled a strong cast of powerful and melodic voices who have great chemistry together as actors. They are ably supported by Music Director James D. Watson and the most competent live Community Theatre orchestra this Reviewer has heard in a long time. The set was just complete enough to see how this lovely production will play.

Your reviewer must qvell over the technical direction of this show. Tommy Scott’s lighting design and Keith Linville’s special effects promise that this show will be magic. James D. Watson’s sound design creates giants wreaking havoc where none really exist. The theatre shakes and the Giantess’ voice booms in the dark second act where the psychological pitfalls lie.

Act 1 narrates the classic Grimm’s Fairy Tales in musical form. The Narrator (Andrew Whetzel) nudges the story along and the superior vocals highlight the magnetism of the performers together. The Witch (Bridget Devlin Burke) is particularly strong and the Baker (Michael Margelos) and his wife (Kristen Page-Kirby) have great chemistry together. Little Red Riding Hood (Becky Kuhn) is a feisty girl just aching for a fight with the Wolf (Rami Essa) and Cinderella (Jenete St. Clair) is accommodating while Rapunzel (Annabelle Lowe) is nursing grievances about her upbringing. Jack’s (Alfred Lawson) only friend is his cow and his mother (Stephanie Giola-Ely) is considering a special education plan for him. Their separate tales are here woven together and the happy ending is shared by all. There are even two smarmy and charmy Princes (Benjamin Simpson, Chad Mildenstein) so that Cinderella and Rapunzel can live happily ever after in fabulous castles.

Act 2 is the part that no one likes to talk about. Everyone’s wish has come true and no one is happy. In Act 1 each character was counting on another character to secure the wish and ultimate happiness. As wishes come true the chemistry between the parties changes and each one realizes that no one can guarantee another’s happiness and the alliances among the individuals change. Even the two smarmy, charmy Princes go back into the woods to look up Snow White (Gayle Morris) and Sleeping Beauty (Amanda Wegand). Jack killed the Giant in Act 1 to fulfill his mother’s wish for wealth, but now Mrs. Giant is on a literal warpath that is threatening to level the woods and crush everyone and everything in it. Mrs. Giant wants Jack. If the Fairy Talers give her Jack then she will take her retribution out on him and go away. This is where we find out just who Jack’s friends really are.

What is a parent’s responsibility to a child and what are our responsibilities to each other? Can…or must…each one of us take on the responsibility for another’s happiness or just create the conditions under which those we love can make their own happiness. Port Tobacco Players’ Into the Woods asks these questions in song and magically succeeded in making the Very Smart Prince and his Shrewish Princess very happy.

Cast

  • Narrator: Andrew Whetzel
  • Cinderella: Jenete St. Clair
  • Jack: Alfred Lawson
  • Jack’s Mother: Stephanie Giola-Ely
  • Baker: Michael Margelos
  • Baker’s Wife: Kristen Page-Kirby
  • Cinderella’s Stepmother: Jackie Burson
  • Florinda: Monica Garza
  • Lucinda: Sarah Koon
  • Cinderella’s Father: Robbie Jones
  • Little Red Riding Hood: Becky Kuhn
  • Witch: Bridget Devlin Burke
  • Cinderella’s Mother: Tracie Wiesemann
  • Wolf: Rami Essa
  • Granny: Renee Gaffe
  • Rapunzel: Annabelle Lowe
  • Cinderella’s Prince: Benjamin Simpson
  • Rapunzel’s Prince: Chad Mildenstein
  • Steward: Brian Merritt
  • Snow White: Gayle Morris
  • Sleeping Beauty: Amanda Wegand

Production Staff

  • Producer: Ann Marie Watson
  • Director: Brooke L. Howells
  • Music Director: James D. Watson
  • Choreographer: Brooke L. Howells
  • Stage Manager: R. Austin Gore
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Melissa Ball
  • Set Design: Melissa Ball, James D. Watson
  • Set Decoration: Brooke l. Howells, Ann Marie Watson
  • Lighting Design: Tommy Scott
  • Sound Design: James D. Watson
  • Properties: Terri Beinert
  • Costume Design: Melody Sciarratta
  • Hair, Makeup Design: Sarah Sandy
  • Special Effects: Keith Linville
  • Wolf Mask: Greg Rumpf

Disclaimer: Port Tobacco Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. PTP also purchased advertising on the ShowBizRadio.net web site, which did not influence this review.

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is a theatrical producer. She worked in radio production and direction for many years and gravitated to theatre when family members became involved with the stage.

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