Regional Reviews: Las Vegas
Into the Woods
Super Summer Theatre kicks off its 2019 summer season with a near-flawless production of Into the Woods in the not-quite-woodsy but still pastoral setting of the amphitheatre at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. With tuneful melodies and clever lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a capable if over-long book by James Lapine, Into the Woods begins by speaking to the child in all of us, and finishes with a wry perspective on the reality that fairy-tale endings hardly ever happen.
Director Joe Hynes has assembled an outstanding cast, and all of the key players are fine actors as well as excellent singers. With such a strong ensemble, it is difficult to single out particular individuals, but topping the list must be Traci Kesisian as the Witch. While hers is the showiest role, it is also the most demanding, both physically and vocally. With her beautiful voice and exceptional stage presence, Kesisian seems born to play the role. Another standout is Marissa McCoy as the feisty if slightly gluttonous Little Red Ridinghood. And Michael Vojvodich and Amanda Kaiser are everything one could hope for in the pivotal roles of the Baker and the Baker's Wife.
Although the music is taped rather than live, the singers perform with style and confidence under Toby McEvoy's musical direction, and the vocal direction by McEvoy and Nancy West ensures that we do not lose one word of Sondheim's intricate lyrics. While the show is not dance-heavy, Teresa Isgriggs' choreography is graceful and well-executed.
The production also boasts an impressive design team. In Cassie Lentz's set design, the homes of the three central familiesJack (of Beanstalk fame) and his Mother, the Baker and his Wife, and Cinderella and her evil step-familyroll on and off the stage as giant tree trunks unfold to reveal their furnished interiors. And the giant, luminous moon that hangs over the proceedings moves gradually from left to right as the evening progresses. Andy Killion's lighting design is colorful and dramatic, especially when it goes blood-red for each of Little Red's lupine encounters. And Hailey Eakle's costumes are spot-on; highlights include the Witch's post-transformation gown and Little Red's one-of-a-kind fur coat.
Act two feels long. For the most part, this is simply the way the show is written. Tightening up the set changes might shave a few minutes, but parents should be aware that their children might turn into pumpkins well before the end of the intermissionless two-and-a-half hours. Perhaps it's just as well. The fairy-tale mash-up of act one is guaranteed to please even the youngest theatregoer, while the adult lessons of act two are not for the faint of heart.
Into the Woods, through June 8, 2019, at Super Summer Theatre, Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, 6375 Highway 158, Blue Diamond NV. Performances are Wednesday-Saturday at 8:05 pm. For tickets ($15 general admission) and other information, go to www.supersummertheatre.org.