CENTERVILLE – Happily ever after isn’t the end of the story.
At least, it’s not in CenterPoint Legacy Theatre’s fun, thoughtful production of “Into the Woods,” running now through Nov. 2. A great cast is equally adept at handling both the sillier and darker moments of the musical, which mashes together several well-known fairy tales in the first act before upending them in the second.
The musical, written by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, starts with a baker couple who a nearby witch has cursed with childlessness. The witch sends them on a quest for certain items in order to remove the curse, which gets the couple involved with Cinderella, Jack (of “Jack and the Beanstalk”), Little Red Riding Hood and more.
The show walks a tricky line between funny and solemn moments. Jenessa Bowen, who played Little Red Riding Hood in the opening night cast, had a bold delivery and great comic timing that consistently made her one of the most entertaining people on stage. Chuck Gilmore, as the Narrator, also had great comic timing.
Jonathon D. Crittenden, as the baker, brought a gentle, convincing hand to his character’s more serious moments, and Michelle Dodge was beautifully ambivalent as his wife.
The darker aspects of the story aren’t ignored – birds here seem very fond of pecking out people’s eyes – but all of the most dramatic set pieces are left to the imagination. Thanks to the cast’s reaction and excellent work by Jay Michael Clark and the rest of the sound department, it’s wonderfully easy to see everything that’s not technically there.
Which, in the end, is exactly what a good story is supposed to do.