REVIEW: Into the Woods

A magical night for many in the cast of Into The Woods, as more than half debuted in their performance at the Guthrie on their opening night. Upon arrival, as you get settled in your seat, you notice the stage set and how it welcomes the audience to immersive themselves into the experience thru the extension of nature beyond the lines of the stage.  Notably, the accompanying orchestra was included in the stage design and not hidden away. A delightful surprise was the head pianist was also the conductor for the orchestra.

The show weaves together four familiar childhood fairy tales: Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk, with an invented story line of the Baker and Bakers Wife.  The Baker and his wife need to collect one object from each storyline to ensure they can reverse the witches curse.  While the storylines are classic, the costuming is brought current with creative details in every character, including butterflies attached via wire in the hair, a cleaver cow riding a tricycle and a breathtaking ombre, couture dress that is reveled on stage thru theater magic.

The lyrical rhythm is often tricky to follow and can lead to missed context to the storyline.  “Hello, Little Girl,” performed by Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf was visual appealing, however difficult to appreciate the words shared by The Wolf due to the low timbre of his voice. There is value to reviewing the storyline summary prior to attending the show to fully understand the nuances of the two acts.  Some may think that the story is concluded at the end of Act One…don’t leave as Act Two takes a darker turn; somewhat difficult to follow at times.

While Happily Ever After wasn’t the end goal of this story, you will be thoroughly entertained by the world you are immersed in.

Into the Woods is at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis through August 13, 2023. Tickets start at $36.

Review by Rachel Gorman; photo by Dan Norman