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27 November 2014

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June/July 2003
Into The Woods -North Oxfordshire College
Into The Woods was performed in Banbury.
Stephen Sondheim's eloquent musical Into The Woods was staged by National Diploma Performing Arts students at North Oxfordshire College in Banbury.

Richard Hollingum wrote this review.


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Into The Woods is a humorous tale that intertwines the lives and stories of several well-known fairy tale characters.

What makes this play really enjoyable is the use of language, the words and the sounds they make.

And what made this a special evening was the relish with which the performers entered into it.

The stories that came together were Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood and the one about the Baker and his wife who wanted a baby - well, almost all of them are well-known.

The Baker's wife, Lucy Morewood just beat Chris Fordred (the Baker) to my nomination for the best in the show.

Their expressions, interaction and presence drew the audience in from the moment the spotlight turned on them and Lucy's vitality and vigour was sustained throughout.

Performing something like this demands quick cuts from tune to speech and back again and this is Sondheim-speak to boot.

Those luscious long sentences comprising sumptuous syllables were rattled off in rhythm and without a breath in between.

Add to this the complexity of comedy and it is clear to see that there are many talented actors in this valedictory group.

Other characters of note included Melissa Harvey's Cinderella, Martin Upton's Jack, Fuschia Waddelow's Witch and James Snee's rapacious wolf.

And this was not only a challenge for the students.

Director Karen Ford took a courageous decision (and possibly a gamble) in selecting this play but it paid off, with dividends, undoubtedly supported by musical director Patricia Cuberos.

I have had the pleasure of seeing the final shows for the best part of the past decade and have to say that the standard has been consistently high and Into The Woods continues this line.

The biggest disappointment, for the students especially, was the small audience - where were they? Killed by the rampaging giant in the woods?

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