All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by what turned out to be a very fresh take on several old stories. Of the four fairy tales woven together – Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, and Little Red Riding Hood – all provided a compelling story as relevant to the Middle Ages as to the present and contributed another layer to the play’s overall message: Each of us may be travelling into the woods for our own reasons, and each of us will face our own challenges, but we’re all linked together by the fact that we are all “in the woods,” trying to find our way. The play’s fakeout resolution and double peaks of rising action worked well to emphasize that fact by demonstrating both the multitude of challenges a single person can face as well as the life-long truity of our shared burdens – even if the second act seemed to lose the energy of the first. Similarly, overlapping narration, choreography, and song were not only technically impressive, but helped to prove how each of our lives exists right alongside that of our neighbor, complete with emotions, struggles and victories.
The play was also a success on the more technical side; actors simply played and sang their parts well, and the signature songs and scenes wherein characters traded the melody back and forth were greatly demonstrative of just how much effort must have gone into making this production possible. Physically, each actor nailed his or her character’s body language. The baker’s father, played by Nels Faul, was convincingly old and decrepit, and Little Red Riding Hood, played by Lily McMahon, was similarly energetic. The princes, played by Henry Kindler and Zach Macisso, were a fantastic source of comic relief, especially Henry, who pulled off entertaining stunts like sliding down the side of a stairwell.
Overall, Into the Woods can be chalked up as another successful production from Kennebunk’s theater program. The theme wasn’t challenging, but it was certainly something that needed to be said in a world where we can all get very wrapped up in our own lives. The actors, singers, and musicians who brought the play to life did a wonderful job, and appeared to have a good time while they were at it. My only complaint might be that act two felt just a little too long, yet also slightly rushed – but that’s hardly the fault of the performers. In conclusion, then, this was hardly a play to miss.