Wednesday, 7 December 2016

"Into the Woods"
Bilborough College.
"Into the Woods" is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. The musical intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales, exploring the consequences of the characters' wishes and quests.
The main characters are taken from "Little Red Riding Hood", "Jack and the Beanstalk", "Rapunzel", and "Cinderella", as well as several others. The musical is tied together by a story involving a childless baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family (the original beginning of The Grimm Brothers' Rapunzel), their interaction with a witch who has placed a curse on them, and their interaction with other storybook characters during their journey.
This college group have never been shy at taking on challenges with drama and this is no exception. Sondheim is never the easiest and "Woods" has to be his most intricate musical. A lot of the music carries no actual tune until the words are put to it and then it comes alive. That said the lyrics can be the most tongue-twisty of any musical theatre tunes.
Put these two together and the fact that these are college students performing, it is no mean feat that this lot pull off. And pull it off they most certainly do. I've seen older actors perform this musical and they have told me how difficult it is so to see Bilborough College Drama Group perform this with such ease was mind blowingly good.
Dan Gribbin (The Baker) makes an ideal leading man with great charisma. His voice could cut glass it's that clear and excellent pronunciation with the ending of the lines gave him that air of professionalism. A lovely believable partnership with his wife played by Heather Greenhaigh who also had the most gorgeous of voices, matching Dan's perfectly in their duets.
Sofia Pilsworth (The Witch) certainly mastered that role and really was quite scary, even when she had lost her powers and continued to boss her daughter, Rapunzel, about. Sophie Bloor playing the lovely corn-coloured locked one with the angelic voice who fell in love with her Prince, played by Alfie Sanders who also had a really pleasant singing voice.
His duet with Cinderella's Prince "Agony" could not have been further from the truth with just the right amount of comedy thrown in. Again another well cast duo whose voices complemented each other. Adam Hunt played Cinder's Prince with some lovely comedy horse riding sections thrown in. A nice air of arrogance was also provided for his role.
Cinderella, played by Lucinda Buckley, is another student who has been blessed with a lovely voice and wonderful stage presence.
Louis Gosrani (Jack) played the simple village lad whose only friend was Milky White, the family cow, who Jack was taking to market to sell on the orders of his mum, played by Olivia Stringer.
Laurence Berridge (Milky White) was wonderful with his big eyes and sad mournful looks, especially when he was traded by Jack for the magic beans from the Baker, the audience fell in love with his character straight away. there can't be many actors who can make a cow so lovable to an audience with his facial expressions.
Georgina Banks (Stepmother), Jess Wheeler (Lucinda) and Kelsey Dorman (Florinda) were a lovely comedy trio, especially in the scenes where the two daughters were blind.
Kacey Scrimshaw played a very playful but feisty Little Red Riding Hood, complete with a rather large kitchen knife for protection.
Sam Holden got to show off some very impressive dance and gymnastic moves as The Wolf, and also had the best make up of the night, thanks to make up artist Deanna Ward.
The Mysterious Man, played by Archie Stephen, kept us guessing who he really was with his cryptic musings.
The narrator of the piece who was a real cool customer was played by the very tall Harvey Slater, who also had his fair share of script to deliver, and deliver he did in a very natural style.
Other actors in lesser, but also important roles were James Prempeh (Steward), Rachael Webb (Grandmother), Sophie Boettge, who voiced The Giant, Imogen Birkett (Cinderella's mother), India Smith (Snow White), James Hickenbottom (Cinderella's father) and Jasmyn Whitehead (Sleeping Beauty) with ensemble members including Eleanor O' Boyle, Sam Hughes, Phoebe Charlesworth, Paige Maitby, Lillie Wildman and Reanne Black.
A tidy 17 piece orchestra provided a sound that didn't overpower the singers too much and created a lovely musical backdrop to the show, musically directed and conducted by Fred Pashley-Johnson, assisted by Leah Roulstone, who also played saxophone.
Ably directed, and this is no walk in the park (or the woods) to direct by Dan Wolff and produced by Sharon MacInnes. Choreographed by Lucy Stanton-Lynch, assisted by Sam Holden.
The set was simple but very effectively thought out and designed by Toby Biggin and the costumes which were perfect for the characters were designed by Elle Stephens.
Adding to the magic of the story was the lighting designed and operated by Callum Roome.
All in all a very enjoyable evening out at Bilborough College, showcasing some big talent which I hope will be seen on bigger stages in the future. The musical lasts, with the interval, just about 10 minutes short of three hours but guess what? it flies by because the actors and the whole show are just magical to behold.
A show that will suit the whole family and is being performed at Bilborough College until Friday 9 December 2016. One not to miss this month.

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