REVIEW: ‘Into the Woods’ was a truly magical production

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One of the most pointed lines from the song “No One is Alone” is, “You decide what’s right. You decide what’s good.” After watching Kansas State’s production of the fantasy musical “Into the Woods,” I have decided that this is certainly a “good” program that is functioning in all the “right” ways.

From the mesmerizing cast to the minimalist set, every part of this production ran almost flawlessly. It is clear that every member of the cast and crew of this show cared deeply about the finished product, and in the end, they produced a fantastic show.

“Into the Woods” was good enough to rival professional traveling shows I have seen performing at the Kauffman Center in Kansas City, Missouri. As a lifelong performer and theatre-lover myself, I can attest that this production of “Into the Woods” was truly magical.

One of the most unique choices made for K-State’s “Into the Woods” was the style chosen for the show. Instead of creating a typical fantasy-style setting, this production used an interesting, modern art deco style for costumes and the set.

For instance, Little Red Riding Hood’s signature cape was a red jacket, while the trees that made up the woods were large triangle shapes with a white jagged line pattern. This created an interesting modernization of the tale.

One of the defining features of the show is that the characters act in a more realistic manner than they do in traditional fairy tales. Modernizing the design and look of the show emphasized this idea. These characters may live in a magical land, but their problems are still the same ones that everyone faces.

Another wonderful feature of this performance was its use of space. Chapman Theater in Nichols Hall is not designed to hold a large amount of people, and the limited space could prove to be a detriment for large-scale shows.

However, the cast of “Into the Woods” made excellent use of the space. The cast was rushing in and exiting out of every possible doorway and entry to the theater, including a spectacular moment where Jack (played by sophomore Evan Brandt) dropped down from the catwalk after climbing down the beanstalk.

Another fantastic use of space was created whenever the Giantess (played by junior Charlotte Benjamin) appeared. Using the high balconies behind the audience created a feeling of smallness, and the thundering sounds meant to imitate her footsteps shook the theater, creating some very immersive and tense moments whenever the Giantess appeared.

The most impressive parts of the show were the performances by the cast. Particularly noteworthy was graduate student E.H. Petropulos’ performance as the Witch.

In the 2014 Disney live action version of “Into the Woods,” the Witch was played by none other than the Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep, and I felt that Petropulos matched Streep with her level of talent.

Petropulos’ voice was simply haunting, and her renditions of “Stay With Me” and “Last Midnight” were utterly moving. Everything about the Witch, from her voice to her costume, kept the audience captivated. Petropulos’ performance was truly an award-winning one, and I hope she pursues a career in acting, because I was stunned by her talent.

Other noteworthy performances included the Baker and the Baker’s Wife, played by junior Cooper McGuire and senior Kelly Urschel, respectively. Their chemistry as a couple was incredibly believable, and I felt truly invested in the romance they portrayed. Their version of “It Takes Two” was light, fun and heartwarming.

Another standout was sophomore Lauren Taylor as Cinderella. Taylor simply radiated grace and sweetness, and I was smiling the entire time she sang “On the Steps of the Palace.”

A casting decision I also loved was the choice of junior Lucero Padilla as Cinderella’s stepmother. Casting a man to play the stepmother in drag was unique and inspired, and it certainly got lots of laughs out of the audience.

Even though I only listed a few cast members, the entire ensemble was talented. I felt that every cast member did a fantastic job portraying their characters.

As a freshman at K-State, this was the first K-State Theatre performance I have watched, and I was not disappointed. With a stellar cast and an inspired directorial vision, every person who helped create this production should be very proud of the work they produced.

In the meantime, I look forward to what K-State Theatre has in store for the future. In fact, I “wish” I could watch it now.

Nathan Bothwell is a freshman in political science. The views and opinions expressed in this review are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to [email protected]

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