Capsule Stage Reviews: Into the Woods

Into the Woods This Tony winner from 1987 is Stephen Sondheim at his most accessible, and Pasadena Little Theatre performs the fairy-tale infused musical with great charm and heart. Your favorite storybook characters and some new ones are here, all living next door to each other. There's Cinderella (J.C. Barras, with jewel-like soprano and pratfall timing), Jack of beanstalk fame (Marc James), Little Red Riding Hood (Meeka Opong), two Prince Charmings (Patrick Hoehn and Revis Bell), and a poor Baker (Frankie Flores) and his Wife (Ginger Posey), who wish for a child. Of course, there's also a Witch (Kara Michele Pohlkamp) and a bunch of spells to be broken. After a rousing first act with everyone singing about living happily ever after, Act II brings on the patented Sondheim wet-blanket angst, with responsibility, bad parenting, and disaster awaiting. While not perfect, the show has two remarkably affecting songs ("No One Is Alone" and "Children Will Listen"), and laughs not heard in a Sondheim piece since Forum. The production moves steadily and has a childlike quality that suits the tales. Though some of the tricky lyrics get garbled and the equally tricky music isn't always smooth sailing for some of the performers, for the most part the cast is game and willing. Posey, whose moral compass gets a spin from the seductive prince, is especially winning. If you're afraid of Sondheim with his deep-dish Broadway fame, soignée sophistication, and café-society wicked wit, you'll find a trip into his Woods most pleasant indeed. Through September 13. 4318 Allen Genoa Rd., 713-941-1758. — DLG


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