Sondheim’s masterpiece is a mash-up of all your favourite fairytales: a baker and his wife are sent into the woods by a wicked witch to lift the curse of childlessness by gathering Cinderella’s shoe, Little Red Riding Hood’s cape and Rapunzel’s hair.
In this version, the story was framed by a teenage narrator, Louis M (CH, IV) who is trying to escape from the stresses of school life – given audible form in the magisterial tones of Messrs. Johnson and Percival – into a simpler, more childlike time. However, as he reads the stories, he realises that nothing is as simple as it seems: heroes have flaws and villains have redeeming features.
Isla B (M, IV) and Loic D-B (Ch, IV), as the Baker and his wife, are the heart of the piece, and it is their desire for a child that leads all of the characters into the eponymous woods. The pair gave superb performances, capturing both the warmth and humour of the hapless Baker and his more pragmatic wife.
The show is full of brilliant vignettes and interweaving storylines. Jack – played by - Gethin H (Rb, III) is heartbroken at parting from his favourite cow (a scene-stealingly hilarious Maggie C (M, IV)) but then finds untold wealth at the top of the beanstalk, much to the delight of his avaricious mother, played with great verve and humour by Pippa L-S (G, III). Cinderella (Faye P (G, III)) is unimpressed by the charm (or fashion sense) of her Prince (Dan O (Rt, IV)). Red Riding Hood (Lola R (MSH, III)) is seduced by the Wolf (Will O’H (Ch, III), showing off his fabulous dance moves) and Rapunzel comes down from her tower at the urging of her prince (Will H (Rb, IV)). Sadly Aoife B (EDH, IV) was unable to perform due to illness, but her understudy Maya B (EDH, III) stepped into the part with aplomb, giving an endearing gentleness to the role of Rapunzel.
The whole complex story is orchestrated by the Witch (a powerful performance by Clara G (G, IV)) who is seeking the ingredients for a magic potion that will make her young again.
This is truly an ensemble show, with every member of the cast giving their all on stage. It speaks volumes to the strength in depth of our young actors that Mrs Cissone was able to double-cast the show, giving each of the principal roles an understudy, who were able to perform to their parents on Thursday night. It is impossible to single out every member of the cast; suffice it to say that every performance was superb, and that the camaraderie and joy of the whole company were palpable from the back row of the auditorium.
Huge congratulations are due to Mrs Cissone-Hunter, choreographer Miss Jones, assistant director Meadow P (MSH, IV) and the whole company and crew. The future of Shrewsbury Drama is in very safe – and very talented – hands.
Doctor Helen Brown
Director of Drama
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