Review by: Erin Pearce
Photo credit: Deanne Rutledge Jones
Last night, my ten year old daughter and I had the opportunity to attend Into the Woods at The Empress Theatre in Magna. What a fun play. We’ve been to The Empress many times for performances in the past and one of my favorite things is to see how they have arranged and decorated the stage to work with the current production.
Upon entering last night, I noticed several logs placed around the stage floor, and then what appeared to be a mash up of different scenes on the wall behind. Having never seen Into the Woods before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had heard that it is based on Cinderella’s story but that was the only preface I had going into it, so it wasn’t clear to me what the stage represented.
The show started and we were quickly drawn into the story line and I soon realized the “Mash up” of stage decor depicted three separate scenes or stories to follow throughout the performance. Shortly into the story the scene changed from these three separate stories to being told in the Woods. I was so engrossed in the story being told and the amazing voices of the performers, that I didn’t even notice the set change that had happened behind them, transforming the stage into a forest.
I think this was my favorite set I’ve seen at The Empress thus far, and there have been some amazing ones, but I absolutely loved how they used the trees for the backdrop! I sat mesmerized each time the scene changed to the forest and I was glad so much of this play was with this set.
The actors and actresses were also so fun to watch, had amazing voices and were all great in their roles. However, two performers stood out to us. We loved the Narrator, played by Nathan Unck. We thought he was quite funny. He got laughs each time he entered the stage and had the perfect demeanor for this position. The other was the actress that played Little Red Riding Hood, Alexis Shaw. She was hilarious! Her facial expressions and tone adding to her character each time she spoke. I loved a particular part when she stood in the back of the scene holding a baby. While the other actors had lines and were continuing to perform, she was making faces at the baby in her arms, sticking her tongue out and such. I loved it because it was just how any “child” would play with a baby and it was perfect for her part.
The play goes on to tell not only the story of Cinderella, but also Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and the Baker and his wife all working together. The music is fun, the actors and actresses feel like they were made for their parts, and the set helps tell the story as its happening.
I think anyone old enough to enjoy fairy tales, would love this play. However, there is a “Big Bad Wolf” and a witch, and several of the characters are killed during the performance. While none of it is gory or in detail, younger children might be frightened.
The Empress is a great venue for families, with all seats priced reasonably at $10 each. If you follow their Facebook page, or sign up for their texting program, they will often run specials on the ticket pricing. The concessions are some of the best priced anywhere, with a great selection. If you haven’t made plans to see Into the Woods with your family, you should go this weekend. It runs on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays thru January 31st, with a matinee performance on January 17th.