Reviewed by David Smith
Stephen Sondheim sets many musical demands in the delightfully allegorical Into the Woods. As the baker, his wife, young Jack and others make their journeys through the woods, Sondheim’s tunes and lyrics test them, and indeed the whole cast. Northern Light took on the challenges and, to a satisfying degree, squarely met them.
The main action took place within Damon Hill’s well designed, functional forest set, with its several levels and sloping paths. The creative team of director Karen Sheldon, MD Peter Johns and choreographer Kerry-Lynne Hauber extracted all intricate meaning from the clever lyrics while maintaining the humour, often at a frantic pace.
Chris Anderson as the Narrator successfully established the tone. He was freed from the conventional story book prop and thus engaged more with the other actors. Megan Humphries was a strength as the witch, especially later when she was more nuanced and less strident. Her microphone volume, along with that of some others, was initially too shrill but as she established her vulnerability, she excelled. Stay With Me was especially moving.
Alisia Jedrzejczak shone as Cinderella. She sang beautifully and presented a convincingly empathetic character. Lindsay Prodea, as Cinderella’s Prince, played the role impeccably. He teamed up well with Max Garcia-Underwood in the mock-heroic Agony in which they really nailed the irony without resorting to cheap slapstick. Leah Potter was irrepressibly chirpy as Little Red while Andrew Hawkins and Jeri Kristen Williams had some poignant moments as the baker and his wife. The major choruses were a hit, too, notably those that opened and closed each Act.
This was a crisp, energetic and coherent production.