Bishop Ireton performs ‘Into the Woods’

Bishop Ireton performs ‘Into the Woods’
Left to right: Donovan Furey, Christian Burke, Erin Allen and Larissa Yaksic. (Photo/ Eurona Earl Tilley Photography)

By Naomi Bautista, Fairfax High School

At Bishop Ireton High School’s production of “Into the Woods,” “the woods are just trees, and the trees are just wood,” until the classic fairy tales twist their endings on a journey in and out of the woods that delivers a happily ever after ending.

“Into the Woods” is one of Stephen Sondheim’s best-known musicals; it took to the Broadway stage in 1987, won three Tony Awards and has had many star-studded revivals since. The show intertwines classic Brothers’ Grimm fairy tales and turns them on their heads, creating new endings for beloved fairytale characters such as Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and Jack while introducing the Baker, his Wife and their own quest. Bishop Ireton had great courage to take on Sondheim’s difficult score, and delivered a show filled with enchantment, wonder and grief.

As spellbinding and entrancing as her character, Elina Viana masterfully portrayed the Witch. Viana’s voice soared over the stage with a mature tone, easy vibrato and a show stopping belt. Viana also showcased depth of emotional range as an actor; confidently playing the contrast between a deranged hag in “The Prologue,” sultry enchantress in “Ever After” and a grieving, vindictive mother in “Last Midnight,” Viana’s performance was heart wrenching, magnetic and contained a captivating energy.

On a quest to have a child were the Baker and his Wife, performed by Donovan Furey and Lauren Allen. The two played off each other beautifully, dynamically portraying both the snarky banter throughout the show and heartwarming sweetness in “It Takes Two.”

Also journeying through the woods was Larissa Yaksic’s Little Red Riding Hood. Yaksic was able to portray Little Red’s youth and naivete without the characteristic whine while bringing color and joy into each scene. Playing the charming, if not sincere, Princes were Pierce Aldridge and Julien Goulet. Aldridge’s smooth baritone and deadpan delivery paired with Goulet’s physical humor made their duet “Agony” a humorous delight.

Comedic timing and dynamic energy were carried through a colorful cast of supporting characters. Gabby Viana was awe-inspiring with skillful puppeteering of a papier-mâché cow, Milky White, and animated facial expressions that allowed the audience a peek into the cow’s emotions. Cinderella’s Stepfamily had a delectable “love to hate them” energy and the Bird ensemble brought a touch of elegant wonderment with their balletic movement.

The storybook-inspired set by Joseph Murray, Charlotte Rayder, Caroline Reams and Sarah Petz centered around an immense willow tree was truly breathtaking and accented the different fairy tales being told through incredible small details. Many of the luminous and eye-catching costumes by Claire Gibbons, Catherine Carow and Iona McCluskey were handmade, and reflected each character’s personality and journey.

In particular, the Witch’s change from old hag to stunning enchantress was accentuated by stylistic and material differences. Each “tale” had a distinct color and was inspired by a different historical era, adding to the twisted feeling of the show. The dry ice utilized by the special effects team of Anna Wisneski and Cherri Hansford for the Witch’s entrances, exits and spells was both an impressive technical feat and contributed to the mystical air and magic of the woods.

Bishop Ireton’s “Into the Woods” reminded one that “there’s hope of getting through the journey” as each passing moment was filled with magic, life and the true spirit of an ever after.

This Cappies Review was of the performance at Bishop Ireton on March 16.