Review: Into the Woods

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The Wednesday 6th of December performance of Into the Woods presented by Tone Death Theatre Company (TDTC) at the Assembly Rooms Theatre was joyful – I felt on cloud nine! Admittedly, I had my concerns about how a small cast could pull off such an intricate and fast-paced production, which usually requires a much larger cast. However, the multi-rolling displayed was impressive, ambitious and mostly well-executed. The cast shows real commitment to their variety of roles.

It is immediately evident there is a clear creative vision for the show, with all aspects of lighting and sound aiding what is a masterfully humorous and light-hearted production. The Director (Emily Phillips, assisted by Hannah Kisiala) should be thoroughly praised for creating a unique and soulful interpretation of a beloved show. They certainly achieve all the comedic aspects of the script, while expertly utilising colourful lighting to explore the twisted tales of many popular characters.

It is always a joy to watch a show where the cast love what they are doing

Movement is used to aid transitions throughout each scene, without overshadowing the incredible storytelling of the actors, which captures the audience’s attention for the entirety of the production. It is always a joy to watch a show where the cast love what they are doing – the Into the Woods creative team clearly care about producing a polished product, and with this performance they certainly achieve this.

The Assembly Rooms Theatre is transformed into a magical world, through the incredible artistic execution of the interactive set. Not enough praise can be given to the entire production team (James Duxbury, assisted by Katariina Visnap), for pulling off the hardest job of all. Without the stunning and unique design of the stage space, this production would not have been so successful. Many of the acting choices rely upon set pieces to facilitate the prop-heavy script. Even with the occasional prop mishap, the shining star of the production is the hilarious connection between the magical set and the actors’ believable renditions of their roles.

This being said, microphones were slightly faulty at times, as we could occasionally hear actors offstage – but this never hinders the overall strength of the performance. The sound effects especially help to bring the script to life, and inject elements of hidden humour. At times, the number of props feels overwhelming, and the quality of set pieces could be better – but even if the execution was not always achieved, the creativity always shone. The vision was incredible, the attention to detail immaculate (credit to Carrie Cheung).

The harmonies and vocal talent on display are second to none. The Musical Directors ( and Carolyn Leung, assisted by Freya Hartley) could not have done better. They have managed to produce such rich tones and vocal variation despite having a smaller cast than what the vocal arrangements of the score would have expected. The group numbers shone as refined and well-constructed, and the band were all terrific, boosting the overall professionalism of the show. The lighting team pulled out all the stops and managed to complete the challenge of switching between many diverse colours, with minimal blackouts. The lighting cues were flawless, and part of the reason why I loved the creative vision so much. I would especially like to comment on the use of lighting to set the mood for each scene – this worked especially well when the performers were entering at different times, on different levels. However, more effort could have been put into some of the styling choices, the costumes were fabulous and well-fitting, although Rapunzel’s wig felt distracting and a bit last minute, albeit adding unintentional humour which the audience did appreciate.

and Charlotte Dixon . . . had genuine chemistry, with out-of-this-world vocals, and incredible acting

I would love to praise each performer for being the standout star in this production, as there was genuinely no better fit for each part. Every actor brought life and passion to their roles, and I cannot state enough how enjoyable the entire show was. and as the Baker and the Baker’s wife were so fun to watch. They had genuine chemistry, with out-of-this-world vocals, and incredible acting. Carroll and Dixon carried the emotional undertones of the production, both provided engaging facial expressions, moments of tenderness and humour.

as the witch left me speechless. Never have I seen such fierce stage presence, and she never broke character. provided pure emotion and chilling vocals, similar to that of a West End production. She led with control and ease. Indeed, it was difficult to take your eyes off her.

Much of the audience’s laughter was induced by the playful and dynamic duo of and Joe Butler Smith, who relished their comedic moments to all their potential. provided great dimension to both her roles, her gorgeous range and instinctive congeniality adding a burst of positivity to each scene. provides versatility and skill to her roles, and Midun Odunaiya does a compelling job at holding together the often-bitty narration of such a show. succeeds at presenting a sweet and relatable Jack – his stellar vocals shone in many of the numbers.

Overall, Into the Woods is a determined and imaginative production that TDTC should feel proud of. It’s the perfect Christmas treat, and I would encourage you to venture into the woods, as you certainly won’t be disappointed!

Image: Eleanor Sumner via Tone Deaf Theatre Company

2 thoughts on “Review: Into the Woods

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