Atlanta Art Reviews by Susan K Asher
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‘Into the Woods’ at the Alliance Theatre

2011 September 14
The Baker (Mark Price) and his wife (Courtney Balan) Photo: Greg Mooney

 

You won’t miss Broadway with the Alliance Theatre’s production of “Into the Woods.” It doesn’t get much better than this.

This production is a rare gem: a great story filled with wonderful music, an outstanding cast, and terrific scenery that brings the audience inside a fairy tale world with leaves raining down upon them and actors performing in the aisles.

“Into the Woods” is a mix of bubble, bubble, toil and trouble, the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales and life after “and they lived happily ever after.” But it’s not child’s play. It’s a look at life, greed and those who never get enough to be satisfied. A prince who finds his perfect princess has an affair with a married woman; chubby Little Red Riding Hood (Diany Rodriguez) gorges on so many sweet breads she makes herself sick; and Beanstalk Jack steals so much gold that his greed brings down the entire village. No one is exempt from the troubles this causes them all, including the Narrator (Walter Hudson ) a droll character reminiscent of the Stage Manager in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.”

Don’t think this is a silly takeoff on a fairy tale. It’s a lively story with fun characters who try to solve problems in amusing ways–a mother hoping to win her daughters a prince saws off part of their feet.

The 1987 original Broadway Production of “Into the Woods” won three Tony Awards: Best Original Score, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, and was nominated for seven others including Best Musical. In the Alliance’s production, both Courtney Balan (who plays the Baker’s Wife and created the role of Hatchet Face in “Cry Baby” on Broadway) and  Diany Rodriguez ( who plays Little Red Riding Hood) are standout performers. A magnetic Balan brings a dozen different sides to her one character.

A fantastic  orchestra is composed entirely of students.

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
Scenic Design by
Todd Rosenthal

Courtney Balan…………………………………………………………………………….Baker’s Wife
Courtenay Collins……………………………………………………………………….Jack’s Mother
Chandra Currelley………………………………………………………….Cinderella’s Stepmother
Jill Ginsberg…………………………………………………………….. Cinderella
Walter Hudson…………………………………………………………….Narrator/Mysterious Man
Jeanette Illidge………………………………………………………………… Florinda/Snow White
Amber Iman……………………………………………………………….. Lucinda/Sleeping Beauty
Jamie Wood Katz………………………………………………………… Rapunzel/Dance Captain
Barbara Marineau……………………………………………. Cinderella’s Mother/Granny/Giant
Jeff McKerley……………………………………………………………………… Steward
Brandon O’Dell…………………………………………………………………….Cinderella’s Father
Mark Price…………………………………………………………………………. Baker
Angela Robinson…………………………………………………………………………………..Witch
Diany Rodriguez………………………………………………………………..Little Red Ridinghood
Hayden Tee………………………………………………………………….Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince
Jeremy Wood………………………………………………………………. Jack
Corey James Wright………………………………………………………………. Rapunzel’s Prince

The Into the Woods Orchestra
Conducted by Helen Gregory

Violin
Kelly Compton
Woodward Academy
Dumarkus Davis
Homeschooled by Bridgette Davis

Viola
William Anderson
New Creation
Christian Academy
Moira Church
Kennesaw Mountain High
Richard Lee
Peachtree Ridge High
Darius Green
Lovejoy High

Cello
James Dickey
North Gwinnett High
John Tang
Johns Creek High

Bass
Kristoffer Caine
Fine Arts Magnet Program
at Mount Zion High
Geoffrey Solomon
Druid Hills High

Flute
Emily Mikan
Lakeside High
Aidan Rogers
Chamblee High
Lauren Rosenblatt
Parkview High
Emma D’Agostino
Norcross High

Clarinet
Morgan Klein
Sequoyah High
Carly Weikle
Northgate High

Keyboard
Dawn Andrews
Norcross High
Alex Claussen
Norcross High
Stephanie Tan
Starr’s Mill High

“Into the Woods” runs through Oct. 2 at the Alliance Theatre.

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