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Review – Sayoyards' Into the Woods: the entire ensemble was top notch


Into the Woods

By Steven Sondheim

Directed by Vanessa Wainwright

Musical Director Matthew Semple

Savoyards

Star Theatre

Wynnum State High School

Peel Street

Manly

Season: March 7-14. bookings@savoyards.com.au or phone (07) 3893 4321.

Into the Woods is a surprisingly complex work and the latest production at Savoyards rises to the challenge of bringing Stephen Sondheim’s most popular musical to the stage.

Sondheim, at any level from the most expensive large-scale productions at QPAC to the smallest of community theatre productions, is a mammoth feat. The skill required in direction, musicianship and acting is monumental and thankfully the cast and crew at Savoyards are more than up to the task on all three fronts.

When it comes to acting with few exceptions the entire ensemble was top notch. If I were to pick some highlights, however, the trio of Paige McKay as Little Red, Tavis Bancroft as Jack and Lara Boyle as Cinderella led the way and allowed the story to shine.

Director Vanessa Wainwright did a divine job mixing bold choices with simplicity as to not get in the way. While some of the bolder choices didn’t always work for me they never got in the way of the script, which in many ways is all I could ask for.

Finally to the musicianship, music director Matthew Semple allows the Sondheim score to soar without ever overpowering the actors, which is often a fatal flaw in many a musical. The Star Theatre at Wynnum State High School lacks an orchestra pit but a smart workaround was found with the orchestra housed in a small enclave to the side of the stage. This allowed the audience to hear both the score and the actors.

Into the Woods is one of my favourite musicals, which makes me both the easiest and hardest critics to please in equal measure but Savoyards’ production met my expectations and then some.

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