Happy Ever After?

Into the Woods, produced by Y-NOT Student Productions. At the
Marjorie Luke Theatre, Saturday, August 12.

Reviewed by Felicia M. Tomasko

Step-Family-and-Cinderella.jpgPutting on a musical is a significant
project: the costumes, lighting, cast, music, and singing all
combine to make it a formidable event. When it all works, it’s a
magical experience. This summer, Y-NOT Student Productions took on
the challenge for the second consecutive time with the Stephen
Sondheim musical Into the Woods. Y-NOT was founded to provide a
means for high school- to college-age actors to participate in all
aspects of production, from painting sets and making costumes, to
singing and conducting. Their foray “into the woods” proved that
great theater has nothing to do with age, and everything to do with
sweat, talent, passion, and great performances.

Into the Woods was a Tony winner when it was first presented on
Broadway in 1987, and these actors did the show justice with
heartfelt and polished performances. The story was filled with
humor and pathos, as well as love and tragedy. Woods interweaves a
number of fairy tales into a single story where the characters meet
in the woods. A fickle Cinderella (played by Juliana Ilvento)
dashed from her prince (Michael Hanson). Rapunzel’s lilting voice
(Olivia Knuedsen-Figueroa) charmed a prince played by Chase Hay. A
hapless Jack, played by Connor Fatch, chases giants. Little Red
Riding Hood (Cara Williams) runs from a leering, innuendo-laden
wolf played by Alex Hawkins. An endearingly spineless baker (Zach
Reino) and his wife (Julie Holst) struggle to lift a family curse
laid down by a witch, played by Hannah Elliott with just the right
amount of derision. As befitting a musical, there was also an
orchestra, ably conducted by Michael Kiyoi.

Although we often use the cliché of “a fairytale ending” to
describe saccharine happiness, the original fairy tales frequently
featured dark endings. The close of the first act gave the
impression of a happy ending to the threads of the interwoven fairy
tales, but the second act revealed the dark side of dreams come
true as princes stray, giants seek revenge, and even narrators are

The performance was a benefit for Cottage Hospital’s Children’s
Hospital. Producer (and mysterious man) Travis Elconin, director
(and prince) Michael Hanson, and the entire company, succeeded on
all counts. If we’re lucky, we’ll see the members of Y-NOT on stage
again next year.


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