BTG Review - Take a fun trip 'Into the Woods, Junior'

Take a challenging Steven Sondheim score, mix in 29 talented singers and dancers, sprinkle in colorful costumes and a pinch of special effects -- such is the recipe for the success of Baldwinsville Theatre Guild's children's production of "Into the Woods, Jr." Director Korrie Strodel joined with choreographer Caitlin Bailey and music director Douglas McCall to put these talented children through their paces.

The story line brings together Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel to help lift the curse that the witch has put upon the baker and his wife. We are visited by the wolf, two princes, Pinocchio and even the Gingerbread Man (girl). Each character is enchanting and totally into his or her character.

The baker (Michael Stapleton) and his wife (Molly Makowiec) lead the way as they search for a white cow (Joshua Gutmaker), Little Red Riding Hood's (Danielle Gaudette) red cape, Rapunzel's (Jennifer Hall) blond hair and Cinderella's gold slipper. Gaudette glows as she sings and dances her way to Granny's (a cute Cami Cortez) house pursued by a hungry wolf (Andy Buchmann). Her strong solo, "I Know Things Now," demonstrates her vocal range and strength.

The ensemble is very strong in the title song, each smile inviting us on their trip "Into the Woods." Even the villainous witch (Tessa Minardi) has a strong voice as she sings "Stay With Me" to Rapunzel in spite of her prominent proboscis. The two princes, Andy Buchmann and Matt Noll, turn the signature ballad, "Agony," into their own comic routine. And who knew they could ride those horses right up on the stage?

Julianna Grabowski's Cinderella is as talented a dancer as she is a singer. Her magical dress for the prince's ball even flies directly to her. "A Very Nice Prince" showcases her fine voice as she maneuvers around the stage escaping from the clutches of the prince. Lucas Greer's Jack gives life to "Giants in the Sky" as his beanstalk "grows" to the height of the stage. As the noise levels rise, the giant of the beanstalk "falls" to the ground.

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