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The Daily Tar Heel

Playmakers' "Into the Woods" review

Caroline Strange plays the role of Cinderella in “Into the Woods.”

Caroline Strange plays the role of Cinderella in “Into the Woods.”

Before the lights dimmed, trees and stacks of books decorating the stage could be seen. Bookshelves that nearly touched the ceiling loomed in the background, setting the mood for an unusual story about a trip into the forest that mashes together the West’s best-known fables.

Although the musical got off to a slow start with vocals that did not seem to reach their full potential and humor that fell awkwardly flat, it quickly picked up steam and had the audience roaring in multiple moments of witty banter and physical comedy.

One of the most noteworthy duos in the production was that of the competitive royal brothers, Cinderella’s Prince and Rapunzel’s Prince (Gregory DeCandia and Max Bitar), who were accompanied by their two hilarious stewards (Daniel Bailin and Benjamin Curns). Cinderella’s Prince was even gallant enough to escort an audience member out of the theater as he exited the stage himself. The song “Agony” and its reprise earned exceptional laughter from the crowd with its clever use of rolling chairs and dollies that the stewards used to whisk their respective princes around the stage.

Another notable character was the obnoxiously endearing Little Red Riding Hood (Jessica Sorgi), whose comically exaggerated facial expressions, well-timed line deliveries and impressively long and loud scream earned her great applause.

The characters’ costumes — especially Milky White the cow’s — were clever and contributed to the fairy tale theme. The Wolf’s (Gregory DeCandia) leather ensemble perfectly expressed his dangerous but appealing personality, and the Witch (Lisa Brescia) was especially repulsive in her menacing mask.

The special effects and glamorous transformations made possible by the costuming added to the magic of the production. A standout moment was when Cinderella’s (Caroline Strange) frumpy dress transformed into a sparkling blue ball gown, earning audible gasps from the audience.

Overall, PlayMakers delivered a magical show that fully engaged the audience from the start of the prologue. From the impressive special effects, lighting and sound design to the most minute details of the costuming and musical numbers, the many aspects of each fairy tale blended together to create cohesive production, captivating the audience through the final bow.

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