Go down into these woods and you’re sure of plenty of big surprises!
To mark the 10th Anniversary of Edinburgh Playhouse’s flagship Stage Experience, the award-winning musical that is an amalgam of well–known fairy tales Into the Woods has been staged. Auditions for this most appropriate show for young people, that has been adapted to a Disney film, took place earlier this year in Edinburgh and the chosen cast are all aged between 11 and 24.
In a fantasy world created by James Lapine and Steven Sondheim, characters from fairy tales such as Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel (all with their posing Princes) and Jack and his big ‘pal’ The Beanstalk Giant inhabit the same land. Here their stories criss- cross with a Baker and his wife who journey into the woods on a mission to undo a Witch’s spell that will give them their longed- for child. All that takes up the first act, and in fact its finale was so strong and uplifting that it looked like the end of the show. (Some folk may have left on strength of that!)
Act 2 is not only shorter but takes us to the subversive next frame where the so-called happy endings are shown as a sham. Moral dilemmas and light comedy moments abound before events tie up in an altogether more realistic style with the darker elements of these previously sanitised tales being referenced.
This bright and colourful show is necessarily performed against a minimal set and has live music from a 14 piece orchestra and the enormous cast has been brilliantly directed and choreographed respectively by Peter Corry and Louise Ferrier. Ellie Campbell as the Baker’s Wife, Heather McFarlane as Cinderella, Olivia Hemmati as Little Red Riding Hood and Zoe Moore as the Witch give stand out performances and Sean Russell is very cool and confident throughout as one of the Narrators.
In spite of what has to be worst bovine lookalike on a stage, resembling a large white mouse rather than a cow, Leyton Loughran managed to bring lots of personality to Milky White, the milk free cow. Marie-Francel Gbaya may had a small part as one of the Three Little Pigs but was very lively and engaging within it.
Some enunciation needs to be worked on in parts from some of the cast but the enthusiasm is palpable particularly from the 60 strong ensemble cast who came across as the real stars of this show. From acting as trees, bird and bushes to filling the stage like a living kaleidoscope they are fantastic but using them collectively as the female giant is a brilliant concept and they are totally in the zone as they inhabit the auditorium.
A brilliant opportunity for young performers to appear on the stage of ‘Scotland’s Broadway’ where some may reappear as big stars some day!
31st July and 01 August at 7.30pm