BHS Does It Again with ‘Into the Woods’

A quality production, once again, by everyone associated with the music and theatre departments at Barrington High School. I saw the Saturday night cast, so all of my comments are based on that. I’ve heard great things about the other cast as well.

SET: The opening set was wonderfully creative! I loved the scrim representing the woods. Really beautiful. Each of the houses was a mini scene within the overall prologue – three separate conversations going on at the same time; incredibly difficult to coordinate musically. There’s certainly nothing easy or ordinary about Stephen Sondheim’s score! I loved how they blocked action in front of the orchestra, closer to the audience. That idea always makes it a more intimate, personal experience for everyone. BHS does a great job of using multiple levels on stage too, adding a lot of interest to the action and making it easy for everyone to see. Special effects weren’t left out. It was an unexpected and extremely effective surprise when sparkler jets masked the witch’s transformation.

COSTUMES, PROPS, MAKE-UP: Costuming was stellar, suiting every character well. Great wigs! I really liked the colors chosen for the forest nymphs. Make-up did an admirable job with the witch’s face. Overall, props had minimal impact, but occasionally made a splash all their own. The crowd got a kick out of the cow and horse on wheels. My particular favorites were the birds on sticks and the eye glasses and canes for the blind stepsisters.

CINDERELLA: Melissa Ivers certainly looked the part. At times, I thought she could have been a little more expressive. Her voice was gorgeous, getting progressively more beautiful as the show wore on. “On the Steps of the Palace” and “No One Is Alone” were both incredibly captivating.

LITTLE RED: Katie Schafer was really cute in the role. I kept wishing for it to be a bit more spunky though, especially when she sang “I Know Things Now.” She carried it off in a very speech-like manner. Her high notes could have been better with a little more focus to the tone.

BAKER’S WIFE: Cecila Yasell was one of the most consistent, expressive people cast, very accomplished for someone her age. She made the most of everything her role had to offer. Her timing was perfect and her voice rich and lovely. Her “Moments in the Woods” did not disappoint! She and Cinderella both had a thorough understanding of vocal technique.

BAKER: Charles Lafon had a really big role in the show. The young man has a ton of potential. I would have liked to hear him sing more consistently, but his acting skills were very engaging.

WITCH: Sierra Fermin is a beautiful young singer. It’s easy to see why she wants to pursue musical theatre at the collegiate level! I really like everything she sang after her transformation. All of her spoken lines as the witch were pretty hard to understand. She pitched them up into head voice but didn’t have enough nasal resonance in them for them to carry. I wanted her to sound more “witchy” and spooky, especially during “Last Midnite”. Her emotional connection in “Children Must Listen” was obvious.

WOLF: Colton Wever didn’t have a lot to do in the show, but he did it very well! His costume was super, his characterization great with a mellow, enticing tone. He did get a little pitching when singing forte, but nonetheless, an awesome job!

JACK: Chase Shurtz brought a ton of energy to his character interpretation. His comedic intuition was perfect! Great stage presence. His singing probably could have been stronger.

JACK’S MOTHER: Lily McHugh had solid acting skills, and her singing was good in Act 1. It became a little shrill during Act 2. The action was dramatic, but it seemed to affect her singing.

PRINCES: Adam Calacci as Cinderella’s Prince carried off his arrogant air nicely. It was easy to get lost in his seduction of the Baker’s Wife. Brian Clancy as Rapunzel’s Prince was really on point, truly funny. Both were delightfully comedic in their big duet, “Agony.” They sang well in spite of some questionable support from the orchestra.

RAPUNZEL: Oh my goodness! What a beautiful voice. Kate Hurlock was a perfect fit for the role.

COW: I’ve seen Alison Schnura in several comedic roles throughout her high school theatre career. She never passes up an opportunity to make an audience laugh. Her portrayal of the cow was hysterical. She played it to the hilt and came away with a ton of laughs. Perfectly cast!

OTHER SUPPORTING ROLES: The stepsisters Florinda and Lucinda, the narrator, and the mysterious man all did admirable jobs with what they were given. I had a hard time understanding lines from Cinderella’s mom and the stepmother.

What an entertaining show! Bravo/brava to all the students, teachers, and volunteers who made it possible. It takes a phenomenal amount of musicianship to pull off Sondheim’s masterpiece. The vocal lines are difficult, counting is a nightmare, and there is sparse/sporadic support in the orchestral score. Thank you for enriching the lives of people in the Barrington area with such a great production!

Respectfully submitted,
Jeanie Carter

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