Into the Woods | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Some new touches have been added to William Pullinsi's staging of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods since it moved from Marriott's Lincolnshire Theatre to Candlelight Dinner Playhouse--a magic bean stalk that sprouts up fatefully at the end of act one, a fiery disappearance for the Witch in act two, and a much more fluid dance finale by choreographer Danny Herman. But the core of the work isn't different, only deepened by the actors' growth in their roles over the passage of several months. Ross Lehman and Shannon Cochran as the Baker and his wife, whose quest for a child prompts the plot of this witty and profound musical reworking of several classic fairy tales, have developed a wonderfully instinctive relationship that makes their delicate duet "It Takes Two," once a bit of a throwaway number, into a highlight of a production filled with highlights. As the not-so-wicked but all-too-needy Witch who torments the mortals around her, Hollis Resnik sings with greater power and ferocity at every performance; but she's just as good when she leads the ensemble in the finale, "Children Will Listen," at a daringly delicate level of softness that brings the show to its meltingly beautiful ending. Like the folktales that inspired it, Into the Woods starts off as a funny-scary adventure, but by the end it draws the viewer into a complex, personal, mysteriously beautiful world of the imagination. Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, through September 16. Wednesdays-Fridays, 8:30 PM; Saturdays, 4:45 and 10 PM; Sundays, 2:15 and 7:30 PM. Lunch and dinner (optional) served two hours before curtain time. $29.95-$41.95 with dinner, $18.95-$30.95 without.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Greg Kolack.

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