Into The Woods

Date 6th April 2017
Society Essex Police Musical Society
Venue Essex Police HQ
Type of Production Musical
Director Drew Shepherd
Musical Director Nik Graham


Author: Alexandra Berriman

This Stephen Sondheim musical is a challenge given its complexity and the amount of characters; nevertheless, Drew Shepherd and the Essex Police Musical Society managed to produce a great version of this show.

Ross Rogers led the show with his lovely performance as the Baker. He worked really well with Kate Alliston as the Baker’s Wife. Their relationship was charming and believable and as the audience, we really wanted them to succeed. Kayleigh Robertson was brilliant as the feisty Little Red Riding Hood, a fantastic voice and we could still hear what she was saying through the biscuits!

Cinderella, played by Jess Merriam was elegant and strong with a great singing voice. Both her evil stepsisters had plenty of energy and were suitably crass; and worked well with Bonny Pearce as the stepmother and James McGeough as the hen-pecked father.

Grace Pratt, as the witch, took great command of the stage and performed well, although when she lost her power and became normal, I felt she lost a little of her energy and stage presence- luckily she was still a strong performer with a great voice. There were some nice moments with Rapunzel played by Eleanor Turnball.

The Princes were both clearly making the most of their roles, particularly in Agony! I really enjoyed James Knapp and his need to compare himself to Prince ‘Charming’ played by Dave Ward who we found out is clearly lacking in charm in this role! Justina Bartley gave us a confident performance as the steward to the price.

Zander Bloom was fantastic as Jack, a really likeable genuine performance and great interaction with the rest of the cast. Jenny Hillyard, as Jack’s mother, gave a genuine performance, clearly caring about Jack and being frustrated by his actions so far.

Hanna Gibbs, as the narrator, kept the story moving along and kept our attention on the story and well done to those who took on the smaller roles. This show is a ‘big sing’ and you all mastered the songs well.

Overall a tough show to produce, but EPMS managed to deliver. The direction was good, and there were some nice touches with the way relationships developed. The band were competently led by Nik Graham, and sounded great throughout – although sometimes I found the band a little loud, or that the mics could have been turned up to hear everything being sung. As you know, with Sondheim being so ‘wordy’ it’s really crucial that we are able to hear all the words and sometimes I missed them a little bit. Great scenery which was used actively! I really liked the access to the tower, and really liked Milky White.

Congratulations to everyone involved in this great production.