December 20145

Into The Woods

Into The Woods - Willow Tree Theatre Company

One of Stephen Sondheim's best known works, Into The Woods is perhaps one of the most challenging pieces to be performed by an amateur company in Tiverton in recent years and who better to tackle this dark concoction of Grimm's fairy tales than our own Willow Tree Theatre Company.

Over the years we have seen this company grow in stature as they present musicals of ever higher standards reinforced by focusing on the development of the performing arts skills needed for this medium. It was evident that many of the company members had put in a great deal of work.

Willow Tree is well-known for the quality of its singing and dancing but it was noticeable this year that there had been a step-change in the acting skills of the company. An excellent example of this was Martin Chilcott who portrayed the Mysterious Man and who I have seen develop over the years into a competent character actor. I suspect that this is because he takes direction and professional mentoring well as did Emily Farmer who gave the most extraordinary and captivating performance as the slightly dangerous Red Riding Hood.


Tiverton theatre-goers will be familiar with many of the cast and would probably agree that even in the more experienced performers we got something extra. Vicky Baldwin as The Witch and Katy Baker as the Bakerís Wife were the best Iíve ever seen them. Leon Searle, Abi Pring and Malcolm Yeates, are all experienced actors and excellent role models for aspiring performers. Particularly entertaining were the Prince duo played with professionalism and panache by Daniel Kilshaw and Greg Wellman and also worthy of note was Matt Browning as the inept and naÔve Jack.

The Willow Tree Theatre Company has a reputation for innovation in its stage production and has always been well-supported technically. For Into The Woods the New Beginning Productions Team had installed the latest projection technology which allowed seamless transition between scenes, important for this show and in line with the original director, James Lapineís taste for avant-garde and visually oriented theatre.

Sondheim himself says that a composer must have a sense of what is theatrical and of how you use music to tell a story. This also must be true of musical theatre performers and The Willow Tree Theatre Company in particular. Another great production.


Jon Sowden


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