Reviewed by David Smith
AYT's junior cast did a delightful job with this challenging Sondheim piece. While the treatment of some of the combined tales could invite melodrama and over-acting, the company did well to resist that.
Director Fiona Delaine and MD Ben Francis drew some convincing performances from their young charges. Even though this was the one-hour condensed version, they retained both the characterisation and meaning of the original, and the singing, both individual and ensemble, was remarkably good.
Kristian Latella struck the right tone and pace as the Narrator, and engagingly anchored the often complex story line. Jayden Prelc showed a natural ease as the Baker, and Isabelle Oppedisano had some poignant moments as the Baker's Wife. Their duet It Takes Two was a delight, and showed one of the principal purposes of the musical, namely the impact of following their quest and entering the woods
Another duet, Agony, is designed to elicit huge applause, and the two Princes, Jack Raftopoulos and Sebastien Skubala certainly achieved that. They both were understatedly very funny and clearly understood the song's satire.
Angus Brill Reed was credible as the amiable, forgetful Jack, who consistently disappointed his mother, well played by Chelsea Lancione. Other impressive performances came from Zara Bright who was a very chirpy Little Red (Riding Hood), Issy Darwent as Cinderella, Gemma Dandie as the Witch and Zali Sedgman as Rapunzel.
This production had zest and style throughout, and was a fine vehicle to showcase and develop the skills and experience of the young performers.