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U Theatre: ‘Into the Woods’ is A Fun Fantasy Foray

It will be playing at the Babcock Theatre from Feb. 16-25. Tickets are free for U students through the Arts Pass program.
Into+the+Woods+presented+by+the+University+of+Utah+Department+of+Theatre+%28Photo+by+Todd+Collins%2C+Photo+manipulation+by+Aaron+Swenson%29
‘Into the Woods’ presented by the University of Utah Department of Theatre (Photo by Todd Collins, Photo manipulation by Aaron Swenson)

 

Into the Woods is a remediated take on the Brothers Grimm fairytales written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning team of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. Stories such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel are combined into an interconnected narrative. The play strongly retains the elements of the original stories but also takes them a step further by asking: what comes after “happily ever after?”

From Page To Stage

The cast of ‘Into the Woods’ presented by the University of Utah Department of Theatre (Photo by Todd Collins, Photo Manipulation by Aaron Swenson)

This anthological fantasy musical makes its way to the University of Utah Department of Theatre under the vision of Director David Eggers.

“I think it was a stroke of genius to entwine the various fairy tales,” Eggers said. “Combine their stories, comment on them at times, and to make us think about the world of these original characters in a new way, that they could have been a community of some kind, in some ways not unlike our own, and that the combination of the stories opens up creative, new interactions and relationships for the storytelling.”

For audiences unfamiliar with this story, but familiar with the original stories, there is a profound amount of heart they can expect from this play.

“Audiences not familiar with ‘Into the Woods’ can expect … clever lyrics, wonderful singing, fantastic acting, a lot of heart,” Eggers said. “The show also speaks to audiences today because it’s really about community … that we are never truly alone, and it’s when we act like we are alone, or fail to see that we are not alone, that our troubles begin.”

The play is told by a narrator played by Natalie Ruthven, which Eggers said is a troubled teen who creates this story to get away from their troubled life at home in this production. Ruthven is great at showing this endearing touch to the audience.

The Stage Is Set

The play has no shortage of comedy that extends to physical, line delivery or actors hamming it up. A special shoutout goes to the humorous himbo princes played by Ian Anderson and Tate Foshay. They ham it up as they harmonize hilariously during “Agony,” a song about the woes of pursuing their prospective princesses and later the woes of being with them.

The show also has no shortage of dramatic moments. The heart of the play is centered around the Baker and his wife played by James Wong and Lila Prince respectively. The couple must lift a curse on their bloodline cast by a witch that prevents them from having children. They must journey into the woods to retrieve the items necessary to lift said curse. The two have strong chemistry that holds the entire story together and easily switch between the story’s comedic and dramatic moments.

The other protagonists that guide the story are the sympathetic Cinderella played by Elizabeth Petrucka, the boyish Jack played by Nate Ginsberg and the outspoken Little Red Riding Hood played by Paris Howard.

The biggest flowers go to Helena Goei as the witch who at first seems to be the vicious villain of the story but as the play goes along a more vulnerable side is revealed. Goei plays both sides exceptionally well, especially when she is sharing a scene with her adopted daughter, Rapunzel played by Kassi Dobler.

The cast’s singing is amplified by the whimsical music conducted by Alex Marshall. Each cast member is styled uniquely in clothing evocative of the ’80s by Emma Ashton and Elizabeth Kennington. The highlight is either the witch’s quilt cloak or the Big Bad Wolf’s shiny and studded leather jacket that only appears for one scene. The stage itself is wrapped in a massive web of roots intertwined with sting lights that must have taken ages to create.

Eggers expressed how proud he is of the cast and crew for the hours of work they put into learning the lyrics, especially for how intricate they are and for making sure each production ran smoothly.

It’s a show I hope they are proud of, and that feels satisfying to them, too, as it’s bringing so much joy and heart to our audiences,” he said.

Into the Woods will be playing at the Babcock Theatre from Feb. 16-25. Tickets are free for U students through the Arts Pass program, all they need to do is present their U ID at the venue box office at least an hour before showtime. Second tickets are $5. Regular pricing is $7.50 for non-U students with a valid ID card, $12.50 for U faculty or staff with a valid ID card, the same pricing for seniors 60 years and older and $17.50 for General Admission.

 

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@apm_andre

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About the Contributor
Andre Montoya, Arts Writer
Andre Montoya is a senior at the University of Utah double majoring in English and communications with an emphasis in journalism. He began writing for the Arts Desk at the Daily Utah Chronicle in Fall 2022. Previously, he has written for the West View Media and Voices of Utah, formerly run by now retired U professor Dr. Kim Mangun. He can often be found around campus glued to his laptop working on assignments or at the Student Life Center exercising. In his free time, he enjoys reading novels, photography, binge-watching shows and movies, or spending time with friends.

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