Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Tony Award-winning musical “Into the Woods,” scheduled through Dec. 23 at Bus Barn Theater, reaches new heights of inventiveness thanks to the talents of Los Altos Stage Company.
Elements from classic children’s fairy tales like “Jack and the Beanstalk” are incorporated in the story. The dark tale is not necessarily child’s play, however, as it includes a curse (not the profane kind), a character’s going blind, death and other less lighthearted elements.
As The Narrator (and Los Altos Stage Company executive artistic director), Gary Landis helps explain the play’s features and concepts, to the point that eventually some of the characters stage a mini-revolt against how much of the plot he reveals.
Many performers, including Jack’s beloved cow Milky White (Caitie Clancey, who also portrays Sleeping Beauty), and their fascinating personality quirks are introduced near the edge of the stage before the curtain opens to reveal the woods and the semi-hidden expert musical performers behind them.
The performances are stellar. Special mention should be made of experienced choreographer Jillian Toby-Cummings, who stepped in to take over the role of Cinderella marvelously in the opening-night preview performance with less than a day’s notice.
Steve Allhoff, who plays the Wolf as well as Cinderella’s Prince, has great dramatic style, as does the vivacious Juliet Green in her role as the Witch. David Mister and Dana Cordelia Morgan, as the Baker and his wife, handle their many lines with emotional aplomb. Stephen Kanaski and Judith Miller, as Jack and his mother, are a great comedic and dramatic duo. Brigitte Losey in her Little Red Riding Hood role, will remove any stereotype of demure blandness from people’s minds. The let-down (actually thrown) “hair” of Jordan Kersten as Rapunzel is a marvel. Lucinda (Samantha Ricci) and her two also pink-clad companions are among the characters who make great use of the opportunities presented by the detailed woods set.
Special effects of spells, thunder and lightning and risks of danger abound, as do humor and surprises. The magic beans that allegedly only a “dolt” would exchange a cow for, indeed defy description. It is later revealed that “the ends justify the beans.”
“Into the Woods” goes in unexpected directions. Why would someone need a shoe to have a child? You’ll find out. Concepts of giants in the sky, a hen’s golden egg, a harp that can play untouched and many more will keep audience members guessing.
Many more clever turns of phrases later, Cinderella provides a dramatic summarizing finish.
If you can handle the more mature thematic elements, this wildly inventive production of “Into the Woods” should entertain and fascinate.
Show are slated 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, along with 3 p.m. Dec. 23, at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave. Tickets are $20-$38.
For tickets and more information, call 941-0551 or visit losaltosstage.org.