The Hollywood Bowl
July 26 – 28
Most people don’t think of the Hollywood Bowl when they think of theatre, because it’s really not designed for that kind of production; it’s one of the best places in the city for music, picnics, and fireworks. So when I mentioned to my friend that Into the Woods was at the Hollywood Bowl, she assumed it would just be a performance of the songs, or the songs along with a reading of the script or with a video in the background. I had to convince her that it actually was going to be a fully staged musical. It was advertised extensively as an annual event, so a fully staged theatrical production at the Bowl is something out of the ordinary and not to be missed.
Admittedly, the set was fairly simple. A large printed cloth was draped down the middle of the stage next to a hanging moon. Four medium-sized trees on wheels were arranged in different configurations throughout the show, which were moved around by four men who would stand next to them during each scene. What set each scene apart creatively was the lighting, projections, and use of shadows. They really used the whole space, which was impressive.
Into the Woods – not your usual Fairy Tales
The musical itself is a mash-up of different fairy-tales. There were the stereotypical fairy-tale characters Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and her Granny, the Wolf, Rapunzel, Jack (from the beanstalk) and his mother, a witch, a giant, a couple of charming princes, and then the main characters, the baker and his wife. There is the typical happy endings for everyone right before intermission (and there is an intermission, don’t leave thinking the show is over like some people did). Then, after intermission, we see the reality of life for these characters, and it’s not all ball gowns and charming princes. Well, the princes are still charming, but they are out charming other women. In other words, things take a darker turn.
The cast, directed by Robert Longbottom, was a mix of actors you’d recognize from blockbuster movies and popular TV and those whose careers have been primarily on the stage. The Baker was played by Skylar Astin recognizable from Pitch Perfect and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. If you enjoyed “Dusty-bun’s” singing of on Stranger Things, you’re in luck, because Gaten Matarazzo plays Jack.
Even though many of the actors have some celebrity status, they didn’t sacrifice any singing quality in choosing them. They all also have experience in professional musical theater and are very talented. In addition to the great singing, the, the acting was really good. The actors were able to bring out both the dramatic moments and the funny moments. Great comedic actors can find ways to make things as small as an extra pause humorous, and great teams of comedic actors can make a show truly memorable like this one was.
Anastasia grew up in a small town in Wyoming. She studied Theater and English at the University of Wyoming before moving to Massachusetts where she earned an MFA in Film Production from Boston University. She worked in T.V. and Film Production at Fox Studios and Paramount Pictures before moving over to the video game industry. When she’s not watching movies or playing video games, she enjoys being outdoors, reading, and spending time with friends.