Theater Review: Into the Woods

The Camarillo Skyway Playhouses final show for 2018 is Into the Woods, a musical that involves characters from classic fairy tales. 
Picture provided by: VC Star

The Camarillo Skyway Playhouse’s final show for 2018 is “Into the Woods,” a musical that involves characters from classic fairy tales. Picture provided by: VC Star

The Camarillo Skyway Playhouse’s final production of 2018 is Into the Woods, running from Oct. 19 to Nov. 18.

The Play

This performance of Into the Woods is based upon the musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. It features the characters from multiple folktales and fables, including Rapunzel, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Little Red Riding Hood. The play is divided into two acts that last a combined three hours, with a fifteen-minute intermission between acts.

The plot of Act I centers on the stories of four characters: Jack and his milk-less cow, the Baker and his wife’s inability to have a child, Cinderella’s wish to go to the prince’s ball, and Little Red Riding Hood’s quest to deliver bread to her grandmother. During each individual’s journey into the woods, they encounter the Baker and his wife, who are completing a set of tasks to lift the witch’s curse of infertility that was placed upon their family’s name after his father stole from the witch. Act II primarily focuses on the repercussions of each character’s wish.

Into the Woods can even be appreciated by those who are not interested in musicals. Although the fact that Into the Woods is a musical may be a turnoff to some, I strongly suggest not being deterred from seeing this play. Throughout my viewing, I was continually impressed by the vocal talent displayed by the actors and I found the music to be the highlight of the performance. My favorite songs were “Agony,” “Stay With Me,” and “No One is Alone,” which I felt had the most emotional impact and feeling in delivery. To add to this, the background music blended well with the vocals and was effective at setting the tone.

The plot of Into the Woods is whimsical, with a darker undertone. There are some slightly morbid scenes that belie the fairy-tale premise, but there are still many humorous moments. After Act I, viewers may be convinced that each character obtained their true desire, but Act II challenges the picturesque ending of the previous act. This gave the overall play a metaphorical meaning that I appreciated.

Set design and costumes were well-rounded and thoughtful, and the stage clearly conveys the locations of the plot. There were no major special effects besides lighting and the use of smoke machines, but the production works well with what the playhouse has.

The Actors

The actors in Into the Woods come from an assortment of backgrounds. The cast includes a computer engineer, a calculus tutor, high school students, and three teachers, including Cam High’s biology teacher Ms. Shannon Klemman who plays Cinderella’s stepmother. It is all the more commendable how much dedication was put into the play by the actors to practice lines and fit into their roles since they all have day jobs.

The result of everyone’s dedication is a cast that accurately and completely portrays their characters. Standout performances include Cinderella’s Prince played by π, the Narrator played by Wesley Umali, and the Witch played by Mary Grace Zehnpfennig. Overall, the actors gave a heartfelt production and there were no lackluster performances.

The Experience

If there were any gripes to be had with the theater, it would be the uncomfortable seating though this did not seriously impede my viewing experience. The intermission after Act I was a well-placed opportunity to stretch my legs and take a short walk. There was a small concession stand in the front of the theater to purchase snacks and drinks, which was convenient. I also appreciated the opportunity to talk to the cast after the play was finished.

The Verdict

Into the Woods is a musical that can be enjoyed by everyone. The singing was the highlight of the show, but the acting was solid. For a price of around fifteen dollars (for students) this might seem pricey, but it is worth seeing the culmination of the cast’s practice. I would suggest going with a friend or your family, as the experience is better with company.

For times and prices, visit the Skyway Playhouse official website.