Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Signature Theatre's Into the Woods Hits the Mark

If you love Stephen Sondheim's music and James Lapine's scripts and add to that Eric Schaeffer's productions, then I hope you already have tickets to see Into the Woods at Signature Theatre's new home at Shirlington in Arlington, VA.

Not having been to the opening of the theatre, I was both surprised but pleased that Signature has kept its signature approach to theatrical productions; that is to say a la black box, but with a higher ceiling. Where else can one see theatre with actors practically passing by you to the point you notice every move--mind you this works both ways--nothing passes by the actors but they do a wonderful job of staying in character regardless of the state of the audience. I say this because with Tuesday's wine tasting, those who rise at 5.30 am each morning and have a glass or two of wine can sometimes be challenged notwithstanding the superb performances literally in front of one.

To that end I would like to say that Eleasha Gamble as the Witch shone in this production. Though I lean towards her performance as the bad witch more than the beautiful witch, her acting and singing are highlights of the production. Then too was the rather sexually charged scene with the Wolf played by James Moye. Moye's performances with Sean MacLaughlin, Rapunzel's Prince, were perfectly in sync and one simply enjoyed the electricity that was going back and forth as they sang and moved about the black box floor--not really a stage in the Broadway sense--but a good thing. Again, where else can one have such fine theatre and practically see every makeup mark on actors' faces and their expressions.

Dana Krueger was also quite effective in her roles and her voice as the giant was super--I can still feel the floor shake. All in all this is a very good production and actors all worked extremely well; of note were Daniel Cooney, the Baker; April Harr Blandin, the Baker's Wife; Donna Migilaccio, Jack's Mom; and Stephen Gregory Smith, Jack--just how old is he?

Well, Signature, you done good and glad you made good to stay in Arlington!

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