September 20 – September 29, 2007
Director: Richard Trevaskis
Musical Director: Ross Curtis
Choreographer: Hazel Green
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
Originally Directed on Broadway by James Lapine
by arrangement with Hal Leonard Australia Pty Ltd Exclusive agent for Music Theatre International (NY)
Rip It Up
The Gilbert & Sullivan Society is an amateur theatre company with all that that entails; limited funds, reliance on volunteers to carry out administration and backstage work and access only to performers willing to devote many hours of their time for no monetary gain. One could be forgiven, then, for thinking that their latest production, Stephen Sondheim’s wonderful musical Into the Woods, extrapolating and combining a number of children’s fairy tales into an adult cautionary tale, is a high budget production by a top rank professional company. Apart from a couple of slightly late lighting cues and one missed microphone cue, it is virtually flawless. This production would put many of the professional shows that I have seen to shame and it certainly sets an impressive standard for others to emulate. It would have to be the best amateur musical that I can ever remember seeing, and I have seen some excellent work in the past.
It is usual to single out a few of the performers that excel but, in this case, every single member of the cast excels. Director, Richard Trevaskis, could not have found a better cast than this and what he has done with them is impressive. Hazel Green’s choreography is great and Ross Curtis has assembled a terrific orchestra to complement the work he has done with the singers. David Lampard’s set design and the costumes that he designed with Bronwen Major are stunning and, as always, Larraine Wheeler has done a superb job lighting the production. Most remarkable of all is that they have found sound technicians who actually know what they are doing, a rarity in this town.
If you love musical theatre then you must see this production. If you hate musical theatre, this show will convert you. Whatever you do, don’t miss it!
– Barry Lenny
STEPHEN Sondheim's wonderfully rich and witty musical Into the Woods brings together a large cast of fairytale characters all in quest of their heart's desire, whether it's a handsome prince, a bag of gold, a child or just an adventure.
They all go ``into the woods'' to search for what they want, and the venture teaches them all some important lessons about life.
This well-rehearsed production clips along at a lively pace, with the usual impressive singing that audiences have come to expect from the G&S Society, plus some low-key but effective choreography and some inspired comic acting.
Melissa Hann is hilarious as a precocious Little Red Riding Hood, and Vanessa Shirley is also very funny as the slightly psychotic Rapunzel. Steve Rudd, who was so good as the villain in the MS Society's production of Carousel last May and as the Cat in the Hat last year in Sessuical the Musical, again turns in an exceptional comic performance in his dual role of the Wolf and Cinderella's Prince.
Tricia Spence as the Witch has perhaps the most demanding role in the show, calling as it does for excellent singing, good comic acting skills and lots of time on stage. Spence manages all these things effortlessly.
The other performances are uniformly good, with Mark Oates and Bronwen James as the baker and his wife bringing real warmth and sympathy to their roles, Paul Talbot very endearing as the dopey Jack, and David Lampard an energetic and magnetic narrator. There are a few sound glitches that will probably be ironed out as the season progresses, and as with so many local productions, there is a large gap between the quality of the singing and the quality of the orchestra. The orchestra is still above the usual standard for Adelaide musicals, and musical director Ross Curtis seems to have been working very closely with director Richard Trevaskis and the cast to produce a polished, fast-moving show.