Long before it was a box office hit for Disney, Into the Woods was a fan favorite on Broadway. Not just a fan favorite, but an actor’s favorite too. With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Lapine this really isn’t a huge surprise. These two greats of the theatre world put a unique spin on the classic Grimm fairytales you grew up with.
Now playing at Lyric Arts in Anoka, Into the Woods tells the story of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and the Baker and his Wife. As we see in the first act, everything for these characters turns out just as you remember from the Grimm Fairytales. But we soon see that not everything is so rosy once ‘Happy Ever After’ is said.
Director Matt McNabb and his creative team did a beautiful job of breathing life into this production. Anyone who has been to Lyric Arts, knows the environment is cozy and to some a limited stage. Which, in most cases would be a concern for a production this grand. But again, set designer Ben Olsen pulled off a remarkable set reminiscent of a treehouse in the woods. The various levels and perches are perfect for showcasing the various locations in the show. Puppet Designer and cast member Gabriel Gomez knocked it out of the park with his puppet masterpieces for Milky White and The Wolf.
The cast as a whole was remarkable. This has to be the best ensemble I have seen in a Lyric Arts production in recent memory. Which is something you really need in a show like this which is so character driven. Matt McNabb’s direction and blocking paired with the choreography of Penelope Freeh turns this show into a seamless transition from start to finish.
With every show Lyric Arts has staged over the last two years they consistently surprise me with the amazing quality of work they produce and continually raise the bar for the next production they do. I highly recommend you make the drive to Anoka to see Into the Woods. This production will not disappoint and is worth the travel time to get there.
Into the Woods is playing at Lyric Arts Main Street Stage in Anoka through March 8. For more information on the show, or to purchase tickets, visit their website.