YOUNGSTOWN STATE UNIVERSITY THEATER, DANA SCHOOL OF MUSIC Collaboration makes journeySFlb‘Into the Woods’ enjoyable
By Eric McCrea
Youngstown State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance has collaborated with the Dana School of Music to stage the hit musical “Into the Woods.”
Written by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim, this challenging show is known for mingling characters from a variety of fairy tales who perform some of Broadway’s most complex music.
A sold-out audience would agree that cooperation like this is a welcome gift to the area.
A Witch, played by Jessica Hirsh, sends a Baker (Adam Dominick) and his wife (Rosie Bresson) on a quest for four items, so that she may undo a curse placed on the Baker’s house. The best place to find them is, of course, in the woods, where other characters have business as well.
Fulfilling the Witch’s unusual request proves challenging, as the Bakers are faced with tough choices that lead to some unforeseen consequences.
Director Matthew Mazuroski’s cast maintained a robust level of energy and they handled the speed of the show perfectly. Intricate, lyric-heavy numbers such as the title song and “Your Fault” were perfectly timed.
Hirsh was a remarkable lead as the Witch. She showed devotion to the physicality of the role, and her comic timing and interpretation were beyond reproach.
Bresson was an expert of subtext as the Baker’s Wife, whose conflicted feelings made her one of the most interesting characters. Bresson handled the complexity professionally and delivered a heartfelt “Moments in the Woods.”
As the Baker, Dominick explored the treacherous realm of his family’s past, attempting to undo a curse so his family may grow.
Haley Tura shined as Cinderella, making easy work of her solo “On the Stairs of the Palace.” Her portrayal was caring and vulnerable but always with a bright aura.
Daniel Navabi played the precocious beanstalk spelunker Jack. While he wasn’t one of the best singers in this talented cast, he had a skill for selling his songs and letting the emotion come through. His athleticism was also an asset to the show.
AnnMarie Lowerre as Jack’s Mother, Malik Montgomery as the Wolf and Halla Henry as Little Red Riding Hood were impossible to ignore, showing solid talents for humor and strong vocals.
Mackenzie Moorman, Sara Eckenrode and Maria Cicco were quirky and hilarious as Cinderella’s step family. Alex Kluchar, Jordan Hazy, and Anna Murcko each had astounding voices worthy of note.
An amazing orchestra brought Sondheim’s score to life and enhanced the show immensely.
A detailed backdrop and gentle ramps were central to the wonderful set designed by Todd Dicken and made for smooth blocking and choreography.
Delightful costumes by Katherine Garlick and some fun theater tricks kept the tone whimsical. The hard work definitely paid off for this well- executed production.
“Into the Woods” can be seen at YSU’s Ford Theater at 2 p.m. today and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
For reservations, call the University Theater Box Office at 330-941-3105 or visit ysu.tix.com.