When I saw that one of my favorite musicals was going to be performed in Thousand Oaks, I just had to go.
Into the Woods, written by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, was put on by Young Artists Ensemble and held inside the black box theatre at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts. Hillcrest Center is nestled on the side of a hill that overlooks Thousand Oaks and provides a stunning view. The Conejo Recreation & Park District sits alongside the Center for the Arts.
Directed by Jill Jacobs, this production of Into the Woods was so fun and very well done. Jill began the evening with a welcome and she announced that rehearsals only started one month ago for this production. What the cast and crew can do in one month is amazing. Piano accompaniment was provided by Ben Ginsberg, and the cast had a great set of voices.
The production was put on in a contemporary fashion. Little Red Riding Hood wore Converse shoes with her red cape and Cinderella’s evil stepsisters wore stilettos and took selfies on their iPhones. Though the costuming was set in a modern fashion, it didn’t take away from the timelessness of the fairy tales. What’s great about Into the Woods is that it challenges the traditional fairy tale archetype, giving it more depth and further conflict and resolution after happily ever after. I loved seeing how these characters dealt with issues of death, loss and unfulfilled wishes, while staying true to the familiar plot points of the fairy tales: find the princess, slay the giant, stay away from the wolf.
And of course, I was singing along to all the songs in my head.
My favorite character has always been the Baker’s Wife (played by Brittany Boivin). And I love the song in Act II called “Your Fault.” It requires such good timing on the part of the actors. I loved seeing actors of all ages grace the stage. The tech crew did a great job too with lighting and sound. Set design was creative as well, with thick trees tangled in the background. Overall, I enjoyed the performance a lot. Plus, the theatre is so unique and fun… I’ll definitely be going back.
Photos below, taken with my phone.
Visit Hillcrest Center’s website for photos of the production and info on the place.
To see what happens when Cinderella doesn’t enjoy the ball, read my story inspired by Into the Woods.