Le Petit Verre did its best with Sondheim’s Into The Woods, a lengthy and challenging musical with countless songs full of tongue-twisting lyrics. A small student opera company, Le Petit Verre focuses on showcasing new student talent and ability. It has to be said that the production could have benefitted from some extra rehearsal- in fact, the performance was originally intended to be their opening night however was instead an open dress rehearsal, announced before the show. This could perhaps forgive some of the less polished parts of the production, as it was still clear that a large amount of effort had gone into rehearsal.
Individually, the vast majority of the cast had a high level of singing ability and did the difficult numbers justice. Standing out was the Witch, who had a powerful voice and one of the better stage presences among the cast. She was able to bring a great characterisation to her role, from her brilliantly witchy voice to the genuine emotion conveyed through her songs, particularly her solos. Other highlights were the two other female leads, Cinderella and the Baker’s Wife, both of whom had a lovely quality to their voices.
In an already comical and exaggerated play, the way in which the actors attempted to send up their characters for comedic effect could have been very successful. What held them back was a lack of energy and cohesiveness that could undoubtedly have come with some more rehearsal time. The cast seemed to fall down on this, leaving a few too many awkward in-between scene transitions wherein those on stage were left scrambling before the next song or interaction began, or even reacting before the next dialogue had been spoken. This is not to say that the play was not entertaining; the interactions between the two “charming” princes were among the best in the play, clearly well rehearsed and staged perfectly to display their never-ending brotherly competition of who was suffering more with their respective damsels.
The Assembly Roxy was a challenging venue for this show. The set and atmosphere were quite suitably enchanting, with fairy lights and a dimly lit stage. However, with so many storylines and scene changes, the minimal set of several wooden trees sometimes seemed to hinder the entrances and exits as they meant that the actors had to manoeuvre around the trees as they ran on and off. It was refreshing when the characters had the opportunity to speak or sing out to the audience, as at times the interactions between characters remained almost trapped in the limited space, not quite reaching beyond the stage.
This play redeemed itself with the large group numbers, particularly the finales of each act. This was a great chance to show the musical talent that the group possessed, and the show benefitted from having these high energy moments with the whole cast on stage. With a little extra rehearsal, there is no doubt that the cast could produce something to truly showcase their talent.
Into The Woods
8th November 2018
Image: Craig Mckirgen