Sunday, March 11, 2012


Stephen Sondheim lures us INTO THE WOODS with glorious rhyme and sardonic sensibilities. Familiar fairy tales are deconstructed and brilliantly reconfigured by James Lapine, to the tune of Sondheim’s most haunting music.
Director Brian Milauskas scores a delicious hit with his cheeky, fresh look at the material for the Next Door Arts Center (playing through March 24th). This WOODS fan was delighted by wildly imaginative touches like an elegant, martini sipping Noel Coward narrator (the hilarious James Tallach), a rapper witch with a mad Norma Desmond stare (the formidable Maryann Zschau) and a frenzy of manic feather duster birds who communicate in semaphore!
From Milkauskas’ book strewn, toppled marble smash up of a set to SaraJane Mullins’ delightfully syncopated choreography, this WOODS has tricks galore up its sleeve—not to mention the top notch performances which make it pop. Kendall Hodder and Angela Richardson as the Baker and his Wife deliver wonderful tongue in cheek portrayals which can turn on a dime and melt your heart away.
Ashley Korolewski is one of the best Cinderellas I’ve encountered and Mullins gives Little Red just enough brattiness to make us sympathetic to the wolf (Ronny Pompeo in long blonde lupine tresses). My favorite duets belong to the vapid princes—and Pompeo and Kevin Parise do not disappoint. Music director Brett Hinkel gets solid singing all around. Don’t miss this one.