Be Careful What You Wish For When You Go INTO THE WOODS at Actors’NET

by Robert Beizer

“Once Upon A Time…”, with those famous words Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine take us back to our childhood with a special retelling of the fairy tales which were read to us as children.

(L. to R.) "STAY HERE" - Sarah Webster as "Rapunzel" and Susan Fowler as "The Witch" in a scene from INTO THE WOODS, now playing at Actors'NET in Morrisville, PA.

The familiar characters are all here: Cinderella and her evil step-sisters; Jack and The Beanstalk; Little Red Riding Hood – complete with carnivorous Wolf; The Baker and His Wife wanting to have a child and break a curse. In this version we are aided by a Narrator who helps guide us through the stories and the way in which they intertwine.

The musical attempts to answer the question “What happens after you’ve said “I Wish …” and all your dreams come true?”. What really happens when we try to live “Happily Ever After”.

Actors’NET has assembled a stellar cast to bring this story to life and answer the questions the play presents to an audience. It is perhaps best described as an ensemble work with featured turns by the principal players. All in the cast contribute to this effort.

There are some standout performances in this reviewers opinion. Tess Ammerman as Cinderella, Michael P. Gearty as Jack, Cathy Liebars as the Baker’s Wife, Cheryl Mazzarini as Little Red Riding Hood, Susan Fowler as The Witch, Sarah Webster as Rapunzel, both John Bergeron and James Petro respectively as Princes to Rapunzel and Cinderella. Special mention goes to Jack Bathke playing the duel roles of Narrator and the Mysterious Man. As you can see Morrisville is graced with a brightly lit sky of stars for this production.

Director, Cheryl Doyle, masterfully demonstrates her intimate knowledge of the Actors’NET stage with an appealing set and costume design, both of which aid the telling of the story and give us a sense of time and place.

NET stalwart Pat Masterson at the keyboard, leads a lively and well balanced pit orchestra. ActorsNET is one to use live music for their productions. A choice well worth the expense.

Corey Stradling provides a sound design which is subtle when it needs to be and forceful when the mood changes. Jack Bathke shows himself to be a triple threat in this production tackling the lighting design in a space with less than ideal angles.

All in all an exciting evening of theater which, as Cheryl Doyle notes in her playbill commentary is “a musical about fairy tales and can be enjoyed greatly as such without giving it a thought”.

Do give INTO THE WOODS a thought as you plan your adventures over the next two weekends. You’ll enjoy the journey!

Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
Directed by Cheryl Doyle
July 9 – 25, 2010
Actors’ NET of Bucks County
The Heritage Center
635 N. Delmorr Avenue
Morrisville, PA

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