“Into the Woods” highlights talents of East Texas thespians

Published 6:00 pm Friday, April 15, 2016

Reviewer: Jeanette Boehme

 The last offering of this season from the Orange Community Players is now playing at the Playhouse. With a hugely talented ensemble cast of twenty, “Into the Woods” is chock full of beautiful music and really good acting. This fairy-tale musical is well directed by Codie Vasquez, with assistance from Mike Hudnall, and culminates a very successful season.

The play,”Into the Woods”, opened in 1987 and was written by the award-winning team of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. The plot intertwines several fairy tales that teach some life lessons with pithy statements like, “Isn’t it nice to know a lot. And a little bit not.” Or “Be careful what you wish for.” In the First Act everyone seems to get what they want.

But the Second Act turns darker and the characters see that there are often dire consequences to getting what you want. The “Woods” represents taking a chance and striving to get what you want out of life.   There are disparate messages in the play and sometimes it is difficult to accept that some of the characters are not what they seem. For example: Little Red Riding Hood kills the wolf and makes a spectacle of wearing his skin.

The actors hale from all over East Texas and most have some stage experience. Leading the pack in musical talent is Haleigh Wolford as the Witch. She has the strongest singing voice and has her role pegged. Her costumes are scary and perfect. Her key line is, “I’m not good, I’m not nice, I’m just right.” Kudos to Haleigh!

The Narrator is young Whitley Hoyland and she does an outstanding job. She carries the action right along. Good work, Whitley!

Stealing the show are the brother Princes, played by Ryan Bean and Brysen Landry. They are hilarious and the audience loves them even when their characters are being bad. Ryan has a look of Elvis about him and Brysen is so ‘prissy’. Good job!

Veteran Amber Martin beautifully plays the Baker’s Wife. She cheats on her husband with one of the Princes and literally lets her hair down. Her character’s transgression, as are all of the sexual innuendos in the play, is tastefully done. Amber has great stage presence and chalks up another terrific performance. Bravo, Amber!

The Wolf, portrayed by sensual Daniel Winfree, certainly looks his part as he seduces Little Red Riding Hood, well played by Ali Gay. Red doesn’t follow her grandmother’s advice to take the safer path through the woods and not talk to strangers. Both actors deserve commendations for their performances. Yay, Wolf and Red!

The Baker deserves special mention as he had to step into his role at the last minute and does a fine job. There are no weak actors in the show and they all are well cast with really good costumes. Everyone’s singing chops were honed by the amazing Music Director, Theresa Cronin. Special mention needs to be made of the set as it is really well done and ‘magical’.

For tickets, $15 for adults and $10 for students and children, contact the Playhouse at www.orangecommunityplayers.com or 409-882-9137. Performances are April 16, 21, 22, 23 at 7:37 p.m. and matinees at 2:37 p.m. April 17 and 24. Playhouse location is 708 Division.