It might have been in my favor that I did not watch the movie version prior to watching the local production of Into The Woods by Upstart Productions staged at the Kalikasan Garden at Bonifacio Global City. Into The Woods is a tale as old as time, yet at the helm of director and Upstart founder Joel Trinidad, he promises something new from the movie, as he breathes in life into this Stephen Sondheim classic by reimagining the musical into a more dreamlike setting, with the starry night and trees, as well as actors in pajamas.
The outdoor venue, an offbeat approach from most in-theater productions, provides a magical setting to an amalgam of fairytales, giving off a rustic charm. It reminds you of those romantic park performances that you happen to pass by, but then you suddenly stop to watch. It’s that captivating and enthralling.
And really, what better way to stage Into The Woods, than in the actual woods? It’s pretty interesting how the cast plays with their surroundings, free of the conventions of the usual indoor stage. The acoustics are definitely different, but their lovely, pristine voices soar throughout the entire park nonetheless. Yet, this is only the tip of the iceberg of a whole host of other surprises in this production.
Rachel Alejandro, always known for her sweet bida roles, takes on an interesting turn as the wicked Witch, an ugly creature who is feared by all because of her magical powers. There is still a certain sweetness behind the menacing scowl, yet that’s what makes her rendition all the more comical.
Even adding more humor to this musical is the casting of the two womanizing Princes– who look nothing like Chris Pine in the movie. Yet the swagger and exaggerated candor they carry themselves with make them all the more humorous when they try to woo their princesses.
There are no fancy props here– a statue of birds hang from a stick, and the Prince’s steed is made out of cardboard, like a cute production you would expect from an elementary school. Yet an all-star cast including the director’s father, veteran actor Noel Trinidad as the Narrator is all the panache this musical needs.
The woods, the stars, and stellar performances– those are all you really need to enjoy Into The Woods.
Upstart Productions’ Into The Woods
Runs from February 21 to March 15, 2015, at Kasalikasan Garden, Crescent Park West, Bonifacio Global City
For tickets, call Ticketworld at 8919999.