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“Into the Woods”
I am known for not being a fan of Sondheim – however I am a fan of good productions, and Into the Woods was great on every level – so take a bow everyone involved!
The set was excellent – with an imaginative lighting plot that gave us atmosphere and some intense moments to match the mood of the show. The back projection of the birds was nicely achieved and the front flats that opened out to be backdrops for the various rooms etc, were very well thought out.
Sound was good throughout, and the band created super accompaniment, whilst not overshadowing the performers, a fine line nicely managed by Roy Mathers and the sound guys. A difficult sing, but everyone gave it their all, and the ensemble numbers were particularly powerful.
Costumes were very different to the norm, and on the whole I liked them -
I thought Helen Ames sang Cinderella extremely well, with meaning and intent – plus good feeling and projection at all times. Helen got the softness of Cinderella, but we also glimpsed the steely core of the girl when dealing with the Prince and her stepmother. A lovely portrayal.
Marlon Gill was a very believable Baker, plenty for him to get his teeth into – and a good relationship with his wife, beautifully played by Sarah Winter. These two created a good partnership, that survived the whole show, whilst keeping true to the ethos of the man wearing the trousers! I loved Sarah’s final song – she injected such meaning and pureness of tone into it. Marlon always shows good musicality and creates a good character.
I loved Jo-
I liked Justine Ephgrave more in her reincarnation as a ‘normal’ person, rather than the witch, not sure why, but I always find the witch a little too strident and overpowering, which I know is what she should be – and of course it creates good dimensions within the piece. Justine is very accomplished and this showed in her command of the music.
Kate Bellingham was very good as Jack’s Mother – she got the angst over her boy’s stupidity, and the natural caring side as well – nicely done.
I was very interested to hear that it was Ashley Copeland’s first singing role as Jack – as a whole I thought he characterised the part well, and got the essence of the slightly stupid boy, and his love of his cow!! I hope we will now see more of Ashley on stage.
George Hutchinson controlled Milky White with aplomb, a very different type of cow!
Penny Pomroy was suitably villainous and sharp as Cinderella’s stepmother – her vocal ability has improved no end, I thought she was very forceful at the beginning, maintaining a good portrayal throughout, with Tony Harvey as Cinderella’s husband showing how downtrodden he was.
Alicia Lawrence and Naomi Brown as Florinda and Lucinda created good characters and they integrated well.
Lee Marsh brought a certain elegance and tongue-
I liked Charlotte Stephens as Rapunzel, she was quite OTT, which was good, I enjoyed her feistiness and even enjoyed the continual line of music, as it was so well sung!
Maggs McGuire created a good character as Red Riding Hood’s Granny – and I liked Granny emerging from the wolf with a flourish.
David Lodge was nicely sleazy as the Wolf – with good costume and wolf-
The two Princes, played by Stephen J Davies and David Lodge gave themselves up to the humour of the parts – plenty of twinkling eyes and raised eyebrows from Stephen, with David being the more down to earth counterpart.
Terry Casserley played the Steward with conviction and a slight tongue in cheek attitude, which I liked.
Annette Jacobson looked suitably ghostly as Cinderella’s mother – a nice part, played well.
The effect of the Giant’s Wife projected onto the backdrop and voiced by Lynda Livsey-
Overall a super show with some excellent cast members, who brought out the various
nuances of the piece – a few light-
Hemel Hempstead Theatre Company
“INTO THE WOODS”
review date: 9th July 2015
Director: Maggie Harvey MD: Roy Mathers