Theaterholic

Into the Woods - Hart House Theatre

Just back from seeing the Hart House Theatre production of Into The Woods. Granted, Jesus Christ Superstar was HHT's greatest production EVER, this play definitely ran a close second. I have no comparison to really draw from when it comes to Into the Woods as I have only ever seen the movie version with Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, et al. For the money, HHT is second to none...in fact, I maintain that the Stratford Festival and Mirvish Productions would be hard-pressed to create something finer than HHT's rendering, even with their gi-normous budgets.

For those of you who haven't seen Into the Woods, the play itself is a musical mash-up of fairy tales. I know most people would expect a story based around fairy tales to be light-hearted and enchanting. This is defintely not the case for ITW. Like the Brothers Grimm tales from which the majority of the characters are drawn, there is a dark and disturbing element that haunts this play. You could say the most central theme is 'be careful what you wish for because you just might get it'. In the first act of the play the characters wishes' all come true but as we move on to act two those happily-ever-afters quickly vanish. At its core, ITW is an extremely psychological play that makes you start to second-guess your own life - what is it that I wish for, and, more importantly, what are the consequences if I actually do get it?

The play was EXTREMELY long, clocking in at 2 hours and 40 mins, but it never seemed to drag at any point. I think this may have been the largest cast for a production at HHT but the space itself was extremely well utilized. Jeremy Hutton was the director so I'm not surprised by the high level of creative expertise. One of the key themes of this play is time...from the essential fairy tale opening line ("Once upon a time…") counting down to the stroke of midnight. It was this time element that set the groundwork for the staging of the play ....with scenery and props featuring cuckoo clocks, the very same kind you would expect to find in Germany, where many of these fairy tales find their origins. As for the individual performances, as usual with HHT, they were superb. I particularly enjoyed Sarite Harris' take as Little Red Riding Hood. Highlight moment was 'Last Midnight' hauntingly performed by the Witch, Saphire Demitro. That song alone makes me want to buy the soundtrack for this play.

Well that's it for me for HHT for this season...thank you for another remarkable year. I fully expect another brilliant season in 2016/2017.
  • Current Location: My Library
  • Current Mood: impressed impressed
  • Current Music: Memories of Last Midnight: Saphire Demitro
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