September 26, 2008

Review: Soundheim’s ‘Into the Woods’ Gets Royal Treatment By Broadway By the Bay

By Cyndi Caldwell

It bubbles, it sneaks, it glides, it runs, it flies and cries "Excellent!" Broadway by the Bay's newest production, "Into the Woods" by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, is nothing short of a smashing success.

Director Brooke Knight has squeezed a handsome sum of talent and out of this one, starting with Narrator/Mysterious Man Marc Jacobs, who is is alternately droll and dusty (in a rather refined sort of manner), and could not have divined a finer performance if both the Bard and the illustrious Danny Kaye were riding on his shoulders.

Heading up the rest of the cast are Paul Araquistain as the Baker and Lee Ann Payne as the Baker's wife. They discover that the Baker's family was cursed to be barren by an old Witch, and they must retrieve some rather strange items in the woods within three midnights to break the curse. Araquistain is both charming and witty as the Baker, possessing a smooth comic timing. Payne is lovely as the Baker's wife with a balmy organic quality that never deters from her sense of humor.

Nick Balain as Jack (as in Beanstalk) gives a performance full of naivete and youthful zeal with impressive vocals to boot. Jack's Mother wants him to sell his dilapidated old white cow (as in the original story), but that very cow is one of the items that the Baker and his wife need to seal their bargain with the Witch. Linda Piccone as Jack's Mother is a laugh a minute, with an enviable presence that commands the stage.

As Rapunzel, Brittany Ogle is a smashing success, throwing the audience into her polarized emotions with a kick and a twang to make the most stalwart nerves do the conga.

The extraordinary David Sattler gives a dazzling performance as the both the Wolf (as in Big, Bad) and Cinderella's Prince. Sattler is an imposing figure; and also rather brilliant, with vocals to wake the dead. Speaking of Cinderella, Mindy Lym offers such a powerhouse performance as Cinderella; few could equal her in this role.

Then there's Alanna Pinell as Little Red Ridinghood. She is full of verve and a terminal case of cheerful that is infectious. Ribs were cracking with laughter as Pinell laid about her pouty lips, rosy cheeks and blonde ringlets like a deadly weapon.

There is not a poor acting or vocal performance in the house. With fabulous musical direction by Rick Reynolds, clever choreography by Robyn Tribuzi, technical direction by Dave LeBlanc with a stunning set, and sound design by Bill Carrico, Broadway By the Bay's "Into the Woods" is an absolute must see.

Cyndi Caldwell can be reached at [email protected] areanewsgroup.comTheater review-- WHAT: Broadway by the Bay presents "Into the Woods," by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine-- WHEN: Thursdays through Sundays, through Oct. 5-- WHERE: San Mateo Performing Arts Center, 600 N. Delaware St.-- TICKETS: $17-$45; 650- 579-5565,

Originally published by Cyndi Caldwell, Pacifica Journal.

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