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Classic fairytales in magical ‘Woods’ performance

Classic fairytales in magical ‘Woods’ performance

Friday, Oct. 26, marked the opening of this fall’s production of “Into the Woods.” For those unfamiliar with the story, “Into the Woods” centers around a baker and his wife who have been cursed by the witch next door so that they can’t have children. The solution? Find “the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn and the slipper as pure as gold” in three midnights. The classic fairy tales “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Rapunzel” and “Cinderella” are woven in, and everyone gets their happy ending – or so they think.

The second act deals with what happens after happily ever after – how everything can be unwoven just as easily as it was originally stitched together and how appearances aren’t always as they seem. 

The set of the show was a sight to behold, with towering trees, cartoon-ish tilted houses and towers sailing on and off stage, plus dim lighting speckled with sunlight, much like the view in the woods.

Other non-human aspects of the show, namely the various animals that come into play with the character’s antics, are operated by puppeteers Laura Browne, Ellie Creedon, Kaitlyn Escobar and Katelyn Quinones with personality that turn the puppets from props into three-dimensional characters with minds of their own – which causes some problems for the other characters. 

The wolf (Scott Matthews) was delightfully creepy in his David Bowie-esque suit, and his counterpart Little Red Riding Hood (Michelle Pagano) stole the spotlight with her boisterous confidence in every scene she was in – confidence that only grew in the second act. Jack (Christopher Ho) had an endearing few minutes of childlike wonder in “Giants in the Sky,” with soaring high notes that had the audience cheering. “Agony,” the comedic, over-the-top duet between Cinderella’s Prince (Scott Matthews) and Rapunzel’s Prince (Brandon Dubuisson) had the audience in stitches, though they could have easily gotten away with more intense physical acting to match the drama of the lyrics.

Cinderella (Lauren Dietzel) seemed a bit hesitant in the beginning of the show, but hit her stride in “A Very Nice Prince” and “On the Steps of the Palace.” She had just the right amount of awkwardness and humor. “A Very Nice Prince” and its reprise later in Act I saw the unpredictable and very funny pairing of Cinderella and the baker’s wife (Maya Deschenes).

The baker (Michael DeRosa) and baker’s wife (Maya Deschenes) make the perfect leading couple. They have an adorable chemistry, best showcased in the duet “It Takes Two,” when the baker finally realizes that he needs his wife’s help to break the curse and get their child. However, no love story is perfect, and their relationship is put to the ultimate test not once, but twice, and DeRosa and Deschenes make the story truly engaging in its ups and downs.

The witch (Anna Rudegeair), however, was truly the star of the show. “The Last Midnight” in the second act, where she scolds the rest of the characters for losing sight of the big picture, gave Rudegeair a chance to show off her astonishing vocals. The dramatic number had the audience cheering, while adding just enough spookiness to get everyone in the Halloween spirit. 

The second act darkens after the happily ever afters to make sure that each character truly learned their lesson, even though the truth can be harsh. While more thought-provoking and dramatic than the first half, the second act retains the comedy and lightheartedness of the first. 

Minus a few difficulties easily explained by the it being opening weekend, “Into the Woods” was a joy to watch. If “nice is different than good,” then “Into the Woods” is wholeheartedly a good show and one absolutely worth seeing.

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