Review / Super cast makes most of living unhappily ever after

musical theatre / “Into the Woods”, words and music by Stephen Sondheim, directed by Richard Block. At Gungahlin College Community Theatre, until September 12. Reviewed by Bill Stephens

Sian Harrington as Little Red Riding Hood. Photo by Andrew Finch

Sian Harrington as Little Red Riding Hood. Photo by Andrew Finch

STEPHEN Sondheim’s brilliant musical, exploring beyond the “happily ever after” of favourite fairytale characters to uncover lives that don’t necessarily have a happy ending, places considerable demands on the actors playing those characters, as well as the audience.

As with all Sondheim musicals, it demands good vocal technique and excellent enunciation from the actors.

It says much for the success of Richard Block’s impressive production that most of his cast meet these demands, with enthusiastic, well-delineated characterisations that not only allow the audience to savour Sondheim’s brilliant lyrics, but capture the humour as well as the darkness inherent in the intriguing, convoluted storyline.

Among the strong ensemble cast, Veronica Thwaites-Brown as the Baker’s Wife, Sian Harrington as Little Red Riding Hood, Phillipa Murphy as Cinderella, and Alexander Clubb as Cinderella’s Prince, who was “bred to be charming, not sincere”, all give strong performances.

Kelly Roberts is outstanding as The Witch, both before and after her transformation, making every line of her dialogue count, and singing her difficult songs superbly.

Colourful costumes and props, together with an impressive set, courtesy of Victorian Opera, add sheen to the production. Full marks also to musical director, Damien Slingsby, who accomplishes an excellent balance between the singers and orchestra. An added bonus is the opportunity to sample Gungahlin College’s cosy new community theatre.


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