Friday, July 4, 2014

The 2014 Utah Shakespeare Festival: Review of Into The Woods

Background Info:
I visited the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City during the preview week of its 2014 season, watching the second preview show for each of the six plays.  I will be posting my reviews all week on this blog.  I will link my reviews as they become public.
A Comedy of Errors on 6/29/14
Twelfth Night on 6/30/14
Henry IV part one on 7/1/24
Measure For Measure on 7/2/14
Sense and Sensibility on 7/3/14
Why go to the Utah Shakespeare Festival on 7/5/14
Unless otherwise noted, all photos used will be from the festival website,  Also, all information regarding tickets, seminars, tours, and classes for college credit is available there.

I'll make my review of this play short and sweet:  if you like Into the Woods, go see this version.
I discovered that I do not like Into the Woods.
Oh, I have few complaints about the Utah Shakespeare Festival's production.  I found the 2-dimensional sets, all based on 19th century wood carvings, to be very clever.  I thought the singing was good, especially because Into the Woods has a difficult and often dissonant score.  The costuming was good (although the wolf costume was about as Freudianly phallic as one could possibly put into a "children's" show.).  The acting was pretty good.  (The audience really seemed to go for the two princes.  The baker, played by Brian Vaughn, was a success -- because everything Brian touches turns to at least silver, in spite of nasty scripts like this one.  My favorite character was Red Riding Hood, but that was mostly because she reminded me of a former student who used to make me laugh.)

But we're still left with a fairly lame script.  I honestly cannot figure out why this play has been so popular for so many years.  It's anti-family, for one thing, so how on earth does that go over so well in Utah?  I am mystified.  The messages of this play can be summed up as 1) don't trust your family and 2) handsome men who cheat on their wives will merely move on to other beautiful women, but women who cheat on their husbands will be killed -- by a giant who stomps on them.
All righty, then.  That's not sexist at all, is it? (Insert sarcasm font.)  And just really cheerful for kids as well. *rolls eyes*

Overall, I'd say that the festival took an irritating and negative play and did a decent job with it.  If you like Into the Woods, go see this version.  If you are unfamiliar with this musical, skip it and spend your ticket money on one of the five much better plays at the festival this year.

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