EBOS presents Into the Woods this weekBy Becky Barnes
July 02, 2012
A dark musical fairytale described as ‘the precursor to Shrek’ is coming to the Wilde Theatre at South Hill Park next week.
Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, featuring well-known characters from several Brothers Grimm fairy tales, will be performed at the Wilde Theatre by the East Berkshire Operatic Society (EBOS).
The theatre will be transformed into a round with chairs on stage and the stalls removed to allow circular seating around the stage.
“We are taking a risk, but being in the round style means the audience really are in the action,” said director Stuart Hayllor.
“They can go to see it five times in a row and sit in different places and get a different perspective on the show. It really makes the audience part of the story.”
The audience will be taken on a journey with four characters who each have a wish and go on a quest in a bid to fulfil their dreams.
The main characters are taken from the stories of Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and Cinderella, tied together by a baker and his wife, who are desperate for a baby.
In the second act, these characters must face the consequences of their actions.
“Everything goes a bit skew-whiff,” says Stuart. “Their actions from the first half, such as killing a wolf, come back to haunt them.”
As well as a dark second half, the show promises to be packed with humour and wit. “It really is very funny and clever,” says Stuart, “plus we have an absolutely stellar cast.”
The production brings together 21 performers aged 18 and above, with the voice of the Giant coming from National Theatre leading lady and EBOS patron Claudie Blakley.
“Some of the best performers from the area came to audition,” says Stuart.
“It was a pleasure to watch.
“We have a cast from all different backgrounds – all 21 performers are principal in their own right as all have the same amount of stage time as it follows each character and their story.”
The cast has had a much shorter rehearsal time frame than is normal for amateur societies.
“We have had three months instead of six, which was a risk, but it has come together really well – the cast are great,” says Stuart.
EBOS had a lot of people show up for the auditions, which the director thinks is down to the fact that the show is not performed very often.
“It is a great piece of musical theatre – a must-do for any performer,” he says.
The performance will also raise much-needed cash for South Hill Park’s Step Up scheme.
“The show is fundraising for a great cause,” says Stuart. “With the cuts to arts funding, we really need the support. This is an amazing show – it is absolutely brilliant and deserves to be seen.”
Tickets are £15. To book visit www.southhillpark.org.uk