(Victorville)- – A little crazy, a little fun, a LOT out of the ordinary – most certainly NOT the fairytales that your mother read to you. That’s how I would describe Creative Arts’ production of Into the Woods at the High Desert Center for the Arts.
Based on the book by James Lapine, with music and lyrics by Stephen Soundheim, Creative Arts Theater takes this musical and makes it their own. Directed by the hardworking and very talented Cherie Glisson, with Dave Mancha assistant directing and music direction by Patrick Summers, this show is funny, enjoyable, and a real switch from what I was expecting.
The story takes several well known fairytales and weaves them together, with characters interacting to bring their stories to that “fairytale ending”. However, that is just to the end of act one. Then there is act two where everything gets switched up and we learn “happily ever after” isn’t what we envisioned it to be.
All of the performances were stellar, but a few really stood out. Ammiel Hamrick as the baker’s wife played the loving and supportive wife, but also had a few adventures of her own along the way. Hamrick is a very talented actress and always brings something special to each character that she plays. This show is no exception. She is always a joy to watch.
Amanda Michelle Way portrays Little Red Riding Hood, and she was great. She captured the essence of this character perfectly. We believed she was a young naïve child making her way through the woods to grandmother’s house, but once she survives her encounter with the wolf she changes into a strong, independent young lady that isn’t afraid to go out on her own.
Cynthia Meade as the witch – I wasn’t sure about this character, but once she started her “rap” she won me over. Then her performance once she “transformed” from the hag into a beautiful woman really cemented her likability. She was crafty, funny, and the center of attention while onstage. And, wow, can she sing!
Some of my other favorite characters were Tony Winkel and Keith Glisson as the princes. They were quite amusing in their pursuit of, and then marriage to Rapunzel and Cinderella respectively. Robert Keil Blomker II as the baker – I always enjoy watching him onstage because he really enjoys what he is doing. He is a great singer, funny, and endearing. The role of the baker was the perfect fit for him. Adrianna Beaton as Cinderella – once again, a perfect fit for that role. She was amazing.
The costumes are very well done, perfect for a fairytale and period piece production. The set – we were told when we checked in that the crew had been up until 4am putting the finishing touches on the set for opening night. The set is a big part of this show because the story is all about what happens when the characters go “Into the Woods”. It includes the three homes of the main characters, plus Rapunzel’s tower (which is intricately designed with stone and set atop the side wall), the scene at Grandmother’s house where Little Red Riding Hood encounters the wolf, and, of course, the Woods. All done so well that they are characters in their own right, but do not distract from the work of the actors on stage.
I always enjoy the productions put on by Creative Arts Theater, and this show is no exception. It is a lot of fun, great music, great performances – a wonderful and affordable way to spend an evening.
Into the Woods opened July 6th and runs this weekend and next weekend, with shows at 7:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30pm on Sundays. Tickets are $12 – $10 Seniors & Students. Call 760) 243-7493 for tickets or more information.