By Tally Portnoi of Mary Institute St. Louis Country Day School
Once upon a time, at Marquette High school, a talented cast and crew told an enchanted story in their production of "Into the Woods," complete with princes, fairies, and witches.
"Into the Woods" is a musical by Stephen Sondheim with book by James Lapine. The show premiered in San Diego’s Old Globe Theater in 1986 and then moved to Broadway in 1987. The musical is a modern twist on classic fairy tales.
A host of familiar characters go into the woods to fulfill their wishes. Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk) and his mother are short on money, so Jack is sent into the woods to sell his beloved cow, Milky White. Little Red goes into the woods to visit her grandmother.
The Baker and his wife go gather the ingredients for a magic potion they need to break the spell that the witch placed on them so that they can have children. Cinderella goes to the Festival.
This show is truly an ensemble because of the large number of central characters. The cast had wonderful chemistry and tackled the challenging music brilliantly. Strong vocals were definitely a hallmark of the show. The musical number “Your Fault” was one of the most entertaining songs in the show; the cast had great energy and performed this fast-paced song flawlessly.
Paige Woodley starred as the Witch, commanding the stage with her voice, her attitude, and her masterful physicality. Conner Jenkins starred as the baker, who also showcased his strong voice; furthermore, he had one of the most emotionally demanding parts in the show, and his portrayal was sincere and touching.
Mary Baker absolutely shined as the Baker’s Wife: she had the most consistent energy out of anyone in the cast and always brought an entertaining intensity to the stage.
Tara Willey as Little Red Riding Hood lit up the stage with her spunk. She was also one of the strongest dancers in the show. Richard Klos played Jack, who always made the audience laugh with his quirky charm.
Cinderella, played by Gabriella Mancuso, gave a lovely performance, dazzling the audience with her stunning voice. Another notable performance was that of Hayley Nebirg, who had great physical humor in her role of the cow, Milky White.
The technical elements deserve a round of applause. The set was gorgeous, complete with a glowing tree, tangled vines, strange plants, towering trees, and an isolated tower—all essential to creating the magical world of the forest. The make-up also added magic to the show, especially the artistic designs on the fairies’ faces and the unique make-up of the narrator, complete with fabulous checkerboard lips.
Although there was no happily ever after, the Marquette Theater Company left the audience in awe of the magic that occurs when such a talented, spirited cast comes together to tell a story. The audience also walked away with the show’s important message of being careful what you wish for, and they all lived happily ever after.
This review was submitted by The Cappies, a program that trains high school theater and journalism students as critics. The students then attend shows at other schools, write reviews and publish those reviews in local news outlets. At the end of the year, student critics vote for awards that are presented at a formal Cappies Gala.