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Walnut Hills High School’s “Into the Woods”

Review by Jane Nalbandian, School for Creative & Performing Arts Cappies Critic Team

A cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, some hair as yellow as corn, a slipper as pure as gold, and a mysterious journey into a lush wood; Walnut Hills High School's production of Into the Woods brought Sondheim's famous story to life in new and creative ways.

The story of Into the Woods is one of many intertwining paths. The Baker and the Baker's Wife are unable to have a child due to a curse set by the Witch. The Witch makes a deal with the pair, sending them off to find the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn, and the slipper as pure as gold. As they hunt for these strange ingredients, the Baker and his wife cross paths with Jack, a sad boy going to sell his cow, Little Red Ridinghood a curious little girl in a red cape, and Cinderella a disguised peasant on the run from a prince. With a wood full of wolves, magic beans, and giants from the sky, adventure is just around the corner.

The cast of Into the Woods handled the difficulty of Sondheim's score with ease. Jack Giglia as the Baker and Lily Adams as the Baker's Wife took the complexity of the music and wove it into their characters' relationship, skillfully portraying the perfect husband and wife dynamic. Maya Robinson gave a stunning performance as the Witch , showing the range of her acting and singing when the Witch transformed from the old hag to the beautiful young woman. Another standout was Lydia Noll, whose performance of Cinderella was sweet and humorous, demonstrating the power and quality of her lovely singing voice. Peter Godsey as Jack and Molly Munn as Little Red Ridinghood gave a superb performance as the children of this musical and helped connect the story to the theme.

The students of the technical theatre department at Walnut Hills High School truly outdid themselves with this production. The set was particularly impressive, as the set team, made up of Max Grove, Ben Methena, and their respective crew, transformed the intimate black box space into the lush forest where the story takes place. They were assisted by the lighting team, which enhanced the show through their creative design. The appearance of a giant would normally be a technical challenge, but the special effects team came up with a creative solution by making a puppet that looked like the giant's eye to sit in a window of the booth.

The students and staff of Walnut Hills High School took a familiar show and made it their own. Each challenge they may have faced they overcame with creative solutions. With strong cast members, designers, and crew members, students of Walnut Hills High School banded together as a team to produce this spectacular show and prove no one is alone.

Review by Josie Palmarini, School for Creative & Performing Arts Cappies Critic Team

Grab your magic beans, glass slippers, and remember always be careful what you wish for, because Walnut Hills High School's production of "Into the Woods" is the most spellbinding adventure of the season!

"Into the Woods" begins like most fairy tales do: With a wish. Well, a few wishes actually. A wish to go to the festival, a wish that a cow would give milk, a wish for a loaf of bread, and a wish for a child. When The Baker and his wife are visited by an old ugly witch, they along with Cinderella, Jack, and Little Red Riding Hood are forced to enter the treacherous woods in order to make all of their wishes come true.

Jack Giglia gave an earnest and marvelous performance as The Baker, and he was able to show a wide range of emotions from exasperated and heartbroken to warm-hearted and elated. Lily Adams was provided a complex and lively performance as the The Baker's Wife. Adams really amazed when she sang the song "Moment in the Woods" which asks questions about the duty of a wife and the life she lived with her husband and child. Even though this song focuses on many adult themes, Adams was still able to convey those many complicated feelings as she sang, even if she hadn't ever experienced them. The onstage chemistry between Jack Giglia and Lily Adams was also extremely profound and impassioned.

Lydia Noll and Peter Godsey were both excellent as the supporting characters, Cinderella and Jack. Noll enchanted us with her impeccable voice and strong performance in the bittersweet song "On the Steps of the Palace." where she used a sense of sadness, want, and a little bit of humor to make the perfect number. Godsey was hilarious and heartwarming as the loveable, yet naive, character of Jack. And although, she doesn't speak, Kayla McGraw, who plays Jack's best friend/cow, Milky White, the stage chemistry between the two is still adorable and it really seems like they are the best of friends.

The set for Walnut Hills' production of "Into the Woods" was an altogether brilliant notion with an even better execution. Instead of performing it in their large proscenium theatre they performed it in the round in their black box theatre. The entire theatre was made to look like the woods and the audience sat among the hills or on stage directing among the trees. It made for a much more interactive experience. Also, their execution for The Giantess and the beanstalk was genius. One could only see the unsettling eye of the giant in the window of the lighting both and the beanstalk grew from the middle of the set using only a simple string. Those who created the set should be very proud of the work that they have done.

Walnut Hills' production of "Into the Woods" provided us with all of the magic and wonder that one could ask for, while still communicating the important messages of friendship and happiness, as well as reminding everyone that no matter how lost and scared you feel, you are never truly alone.

Review by Caitlin Boutwell, Ursuline Academy Cappies Critic Team

Red, yellow, white, and gold. To any ordinary soul these colors do not mean much, but to the Baker and his wife, they are the difference between a barren life and a joyful one. Walnut Hills' production of "Into the Woods" humanizes this whimsical story about journeying toward a "happily ever after."

After its Broadway opening in 1987, "Into the Woods" has become a well-known musical, even getting a movie adaptation in 2014. The story follows a baker and his wife as they try to break the curse on their house that restricts the couple from having children. The couple meets fairy-tale characters like Rapunzel, Jack, and Cinderella while in the woods, inciting conflict.

The black box theater invokes a closer and more intimate setting. The audience sits on picnic blankets and burlap covered benches which makes the forest even more realistic. The cast even weaves through the audience in numbers like "Agony" and "No One is Alone."

Jack Giglia, who plays the Baker, realistically showed the raw emotion and struggle of the story. His actions and emotions propelled the plot toward a resolution. Cinderella, played by Lydia Noll, sang angelically through "On the Steps of the Palace." Her talent blew everyone away and convinced the audience to sympathize with Cinderella. Maya Robinson, as The Witch, was the best example of an actor immersed in her role. With every action, Maya's walk and voice captivated the audience.

Notably, the Steward, played by Matthew Eggers, was a stand-out role. Every line caused fits of laughter from the audience that even spilled outside the show. Perri Wedlock-Dunn, as both the Giant and the Grandma, made audiences scared and joyful. The contrast between her two characters truly demonstrated Perri's talent.

The crew had a monumental role of making the woods more realistic. The simple set design by Max Grove, Ben Methena, and crew prevented the stage from clutter and overcrowding. Some set pieces served multiple purposes. For example, Cinderella's Tree also was the tree knocked down by the giant. Lighting from Iris LeCates and Olive Leonardi helped the audience gain a sense of time in the story. After every midnight, the lights would change, looking like a sunrise. These simple lighting choices helped make the story real without making the actors hard to see.

Walnut Hills' rendition of "Into the Woods" achieved its goal of making the story realistic. The actors' performances made them relatable, and the simplistic set made the story, easy to follow. The works of cast & crew resulted in a beautiful performance that was filled with creativity.

Excerpts from Top-Ranked Student Reviews

“In the iconic scene of Wolf antagonizing the sweet and lively Little Red Ridinghood, played by Molly Munn, off the path the lighting goes from mischievous red to light and airy to reflect the contrasts in the scene. Lighting played a major role in the show; the designer, Iris LeCates, took into account the characters emotions and actions in a scene and made them more melodramatic and apparent.”

-Mahayla Marshall, School for Creative & Performing Arts

“The dynamic nature of the Baker is well- presented by Jack Giglia's rendering, with whom you can really feel the change between the entire ‘Act 1 Opening’ to ‘No One is Alone’ in which he gives a truly poignant performance to the point where a singular tear is shed. Adjoining him, is the Baker's Wife, played by Lily Adams. Unlike the Baker, she is the much more stubborn and strong-willed of the two which was demonstrated by Adams’ performance. For example, songs such as ‘It Takes Two’ display her acting and musical ability and her strong characterization.”

-Jacob Walker, School for Creative & Performing Arts

“One of the most impressive aspects of Walnut Hills' performance was their technical innovation. The massive set, completely covering their black-box theatre, immersed audience members into the story and seated them throughout the set itself.”

-Juli Russ, Highlands High School

“Jack Giglia played The Baker with a broad range of emotion and superb acting in his challenging role. His partner in crime, The Baker's Wife, played by Lily Adams, grounded the two in their quest to fulfill their wish of having a baby. The pairing of Jack Giglia and Lily Adams as The Baker and The Baker's Wife kept balance with the fairy-tale elements through their humbleness and integrity.”

-Nicole Magliocco, Ursuline Academy

“Not to be forgotten was Maya Robinson who played the iconic Witch. Robinson was truly a talent to remember, as her gorgeous vocal talents contributed to her pained and conflicted feelings towards Rapunzel, the only person she loved. A definite highlight could be seen in her solo, ‘Stay With Me’ where Robinson's pained facial expressions and powerful vocal range created one of the most beautiful moments of the show. Her intense delivery of lines and confident stance when addressing the Giant all contributed to her character's persona.”

-Lin DeGraaf, Highlands High School

“The technical aspects of the play were second to none. From falling trees, a rising beanstalk, and the eye of the Giant , the work of Gabrielle Choing and crew deserves recognition. The costumes, realistic and intricate, allowed the roles to fully develop and blossom, and made the production all the more mystical. The lighting and sound crew worked hand in hand to convey the mood of the musical; red lights for the musically intense parts, and soft lights for the musically calm parts.”

-Ellie Lewis, Mariemont High School

“The production of ‘Into the Woods’ involves significant character building in each of the characters including Milky White. The environmental theater surrounded the audience. The work of the middle riser and how the characters were blocked for the scenes were beneficial to the production.”

-Haley Barth, Randall K. Cooper High School

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