“Into the Woods”

Royal Opera House (Linbury Studio Theatre), London • 16 June 2007 • 2:30pm (preview)
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Lapine.

Conductor: James Holmes. Director: Will Tuckett. With Gary Waldhorn (Narrator), Gillian Kirkpatrick (Cinderella), Peter Caulfield (Jack), Anne Reid (Jack’s Mother), Clive Rowe (Baker), Anna Francolini (Baker’s Wife), Suzanne Toase (Little Red Riding Hood), Beverley Klein (Witch), Byron Watson (Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince [replacement]), Christina Raphaëlle Haldane (Rapunzel), Nic Greenshields (Rapunzel’s Prince)…

It is customary to refrain from commenting on a preview. However, this promises to be a fine production of Into the Woods, with a mostly fine cast and a lot of interesting stage work from director Will Tuckett. Some added underscoring as well as numerous sound and visual effects give the show a lot of unusual spice. The emphasis seems to be more on the comedic side, though, and the last scenes aren’t as moving as in most other productions I’ve seen.

Although I am a fan of Beverley Klein, I have to admit I wouldn’t have thought of her as an obvious choice to play the Witch. Her performance seems to be quite influenced by her recent stint as Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, but it works, somehow. It is also a pleasure to see some reliable and regular West End faces, like Anna Francolini and Clive Rowe. (Nice prop: when the Baker (Rowe) and his wife (Francolini) finally have a baby, it is a nice brown colour.)

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