Much as I hate to say it, despite some great performances in its large cast and the high level of energy Ray of Light Theatre typically brings to their productions, I didn't really enjoy seeing Into The Woods -- the last of the company's Sondheim trilogy. It's really hard to enjoy anything with some yahoos sitting in the seats right behind you screaming "WHOO HOOO" after every number like they were at a fucking tractor pull with all you-can-drink Pabst Blue Ribbons included in the price of the tickets.
After the first couple of times I thought the ringleader would settle down, but she just grew more animated and obnoxious as the performance went on, as if she was desperately trying to get someone onstage to notice she was there. It turns out she was the show's director. Her friends (there were four of them in this group, all dolled-up) were just a notch below her in their screeching enthusiasm, which would have been fine if it were merited, but it really wasn't. The Sly One and I just looked at one another and thought we must have somehow ended up in Turlock by mistake. It never ceased, meaning they never shut up, and I noticed when we returned from intermission that we weren't the only ones who were bothered- the two rows in front of the screamers were now empty. I would have asked to move seats but the house was sold out on its opening night. We discussed leaving during the intermission, but it really wasn't the play that was the problem- just our inability to enjoy it.
All this nonsense didn't really obscure the fact that there were some strong performances taking place onstage (especially by Marisa Cozart, Nikki Arias, Derek Travis Collard, Michelle Jasso, Nancy Sale, Allison Meneley, John Flaw, and Ted Zolan) and a brilliant musical performance being given under the direction of David Moschler. However, what I noticed in 2nd half was that the play had only one speed- frenetic, as if the screamer and her friends has unnerved the performers and they simply chucked all the nuance and subtlety of Sondheim's clever lyrics and music out the window and decided to just go for broke. By the time it was over I felt exhausted and annoyed instead of entertained. Let's hope these fools stay home for the company's upcoming production of Carrie- the Musical, which opens at the Victoria Theatre on October 4th. Into the Woods runs through June 29th at the Eureka Theatre.
Top photo: Ryan McCrary, Corinne Proctor, and Jeffrey Brian Adams by Jessica Palopoli.