Into the Woods

Date 12th October 2022
Society Chatsworth Players
Venue Chatsworth House Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Lindsay Jackson
Musical Director Andrew Marples
Choreographer Rachel Wilson
Written By Stephen Sondheim


Author: Joyce Handbury

Into the Woods is a 1987 musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. It intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales exploring consequences of the characters' wishes and quests. The story follows the Baker and his wife who wish to have a child, Cinderella who wishes to go to the Kings' Festival and Jack who wishes his cow woud give some milk. A neighbourhood witch reveals that she cast a spell on the family and if the Baker and his wife wish to have a child they must comply with her bizarre requests. Also in the woods we meet Little Red Riding Hood, her Grandmother, the Wolf, the witch's daughter Rapunzel and the Princes chasing after their loves.

Chatsworth Players usually perform plays but they decided to challenge themselves by performing a musical and of course, what do you choose for this your first venture into the world of musicals oh yes, the very difficult show - Into the Woods. The music and singing of Sondheim is not simplistic and coupled with the technical demands of the show they really did have a challenge on their hands, but they rose to this challenge admirably.

The set was static throughout with a central tree stump surrounded by flats, beautifully painted with forest trees, one of which opened to reveal the castle of the witch where Rapunzel is held, it was a shame that it was far left of the stage and out of view for some of the audience.

As the Narrator, Melvyn Osbourne did a stirling job keeping us in touch with the storyline, he was also great as the Mysterious Old Man. A sublime portrayal came from Peter Wilmot as the Baker, he totally captured the vulnerability and insecurities of the character so well, a super delivery. There was a lovely chemistry between himself and his wife who was so convincingly and effectively played by Sarah Bright. She has a beautiful singing voice and coupled with excellent acting, it too was a terrific performance. What an outstanding delivery was given by Rachel Wilson as The Witch. She was menacing, scheming and obsessive and all these mannerisms were portayed with such flamboyance in both her exquisite singing and acting and her glamourous transformation was divine. The lovely voice of Petra Nolan was ideally suited to the role of Cinderella which she played with such sensitivity. Emma Garde was delightful as Little Red Riding Hood bringing the stage alight with her youthful exuberant exploits. Will Cousins gave a fine performance as Jack. He brought out the naivety whilst expressing the adventurous side of the character so endearingly. Kate Stewart gave a wonderfully powerful portrayal as Jack's strong-willed mother and Alicia Bloundele was top-notch as the demanding and mean-spirited Step-mother to Cinderella accompamied at all times by her daughters well played by Jodi Thomas as Florinda and Mia Ryley-Beardsall. What a fearsome trio they were. Josh Skeldon was first-rate as Cinderella's Prince. He hilariously, arrogantly and self-importantly swaggered around the stage whilst Tom Dawes was much more charming, but just as vain. Their duet 'Agony' was brilliant. Good performances came from Trevor Kartupelis as the Wolf (loved the upright bed), from Rachel Callen as Cinderella's mother, from Holly Howe as Rapunzel, from Helen Rogers as Grandmother, from Ash Bainbridge as The Steward and from Helen Rogers as The Giantess.

The singing and acting throughout was excellent, the costumes were absolutely fabulous, there were a few technical issues but overall this was a superb show. It was their first venture, as i've already said, into the world of musical theatre but I'm sure it won't be their last. It must have been a steep learning curve for all involved but all their hard work certainly paid off. This show goes to 'great lengths' to point out that you don't always get what you wish for, however, it does end on a more hopeful and positive note when it says that - 'No One is Alone'!

Many congratulations to the Production Team, to Andrew Marples and Chris Flint playing Piano and Keyboards, to the excellent cast and indeed to everyone else involved also, thank you Lindsay for your hospitality.