Reviewed by David Smith
This group gets ever better. They have been producing musicals for over forty years and the accumulated experience shows. They squarely met the musical and staging challenges of this Sondheim piece. Their attention to detail was apparent in the clever installation in the foyer, complete with huge golden slipper and stall selling relevant goodies.That continued onto the well-devised multi-level set, where Director Trent Baker and MD Benjamin Gallasch presented a decidedly polished performance. Sondheim's lyrics can be tricky and demand crisp diction. All these singers delivered on that.
Chris Overton excelled in both his roles. He established a sense of excitement and purpose as the Narrator, and made more of the Mysterious Man role that many before him have managed. Josh Rance was a most believable Jack, while Benjamin Furnel and Katherine Wicker as the Baker and his wife made a good fist of their interaction, with a refreshingly sharp edge when necessary. Karen Kneebone drew the contrasts in the Witch, resisting the temptation to be too strident.
Other strengths in a solid cast were Amanda Hill as Cinderella, Jesse Budel as Rapunzel's Prince, working well with Tim Hodgen as Cinderella's Prince, Noel Kneebone as a quirky Steward and Gabrielle King as Little Red. Lauren Calliss did well as Milky White, sensitively manipulating the stylized cow puppet.
The band, semi-screened upstage beneath the bulk of the set, set the mood and provided secure support for the cast.
This is a production well worth seeing. If that means a trip up the freeway, take it.