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Theater Review: “Into the Woods”

By Courtney Powell

Dec. 3, 2008 10:10 p.m.

Some say that once childhood ends, you can never go back. Turns out, the only thing necessary is a drive down La Brea Avenue.

There, playing at the Lyric Theatre, is James Lapine’s legendary “Into The Woods.” You may never be 5 years old again, but during this delightful and disturbing two-hour show, you’ll come close to it.

Directed by UCLA alumnus Ryan Braun, “Into the Woods” is a tale of friendship that involves the characters from the beloved Brothers Grimm tales. Characters from the classic stories of “Cinderella,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and “Rapunzel” all come together out of their individual tales and find themselves going “into the woods, and who can tell what’s waiting on the journey?”

Once they find themselves in the woods, each character’s story becomes intertwined with the rest. The first act goes off of the story lines from the well-known fairy tales but then ties them together with an original story about a baker and his wife and their quest to have a child.

While the beginning is filled with jaunty musical numbers, hilarious one-liners and feelings of nostalgia, the second act is much darker. Multiple deaths, adultery and attacks from giants fill the stage after intermission, and yet somehow, the play remains extremely enjoyable.

While the set design is not as elaborate as it could be, the lighting and sound effects combined with the excellent skills of most of the cast make it easy to mistake the theater for a forest floor.

By far the two most enjoyable characters of “Into the Woods” are Little Red Riding Hood, played by Amanda Noret, and Jack, played by UCLA’s very own Sam Ayoub. Noret plays Little Red Riding Hood’s stubborn, sarcastic disposition to a hilarious tee. It could be argued that Noret and her alter ego are the top reasons for going to see the show, if only to see her emerge from the wolf’s belly at the end of the first act still chewing on the cookie her granny gave her.

Aside from the witch, whose acting was fairly unconvincing, the rest of the actors play their roles very well and bring a lot of a heart to their musical numbers. The two princes, in particular, have a few songs together that could bring a smile to even the most sour-faced audience member. Adulthood is just around the corner, but in the meantime, “Into the Woods” is a worthy detour.

E-mail Powell at [email protected]

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Courtney Powell
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