Slow Burn Theater Co / Into The Woods Company / photo by Larry Marano

To say that “Into The Woods” is one of my favorite Sondheim shows would be an understatement!  Having been lucky enough to see the Original Production on Broadway back in 1987, this show had always held a special place in my theatrical heart.

When the Slow Burn Theatre Co. announced, they were going to present it as the opener to their 23’/24’ season, I was elated and a bit nervous for all involved.  After all, taking on Sondheim is no easy feat.  I have seen a few regional productions of “Into The Woods”  over the years and none of them were able to deliver a fully realized adaptation. Slow Burn not only met my expectations, but it exceeded them with their newest production!

Slow Burn Theater Co / Into The Woods – Company / photo by Larry Marano

Slow Burn Theater Co. has proven itself to be worthy of taking on some of the most ambitious musicals ever created and their productions continue to deliver excellence to South Florida theatre goers.  The entire cast in this production delivers excellent performances by fully embodying their character(s).  This is a testament to the direction and choreography by cofounder Patrick Fitzwater.  Under his direction the cast was able to bring their fairy tale characters to life and take the audience on a journey with them.   The set design is effective in bringing the audience into this fairy tale world and brilliantly lit, creating an immersive environment for the cast to tell their story.

This show depends on an ensemble cast to deliver the blended stories of several famous fairytales.  You get an interwoven story that includes Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, and at the center are the Baker & his wife who are desperate to have a child of their own.  There is even a Witch at the center of the story and even a couple cameos of Snow White & Sleeping Beauty.  To make all these stories blend seamlessly requires a cast willing to put in a lot of work not only memorizing the tricky lyrics but interpreting them and bringing character to them.  This cast truly delivers!

Into The Woods / Melissa Whitworth & Aaron Atkinson & Kimmie Johnson Grimes / photo by Larry Marano

Melissa Whitworth, as the Baker’s Wife, delivers a performance worthy of note, as she has a penchant for playing a strong-willed female lead (previously seen as Mary Poppins).  As her husband, The Baker, Ben Liebert delivers a witty and insightful performance in his debut role with Slow Burn.

Kimmi Johnson Grimes embodies the role of Cinderella and gives a well-rounded performance that is comical and dramatic.  In the role of Jack, Luis-Pablo Garcia gives a heartwarming performance as the naïve and optimistic cow loving lad.  Huge props go to Aaron Atkinson who is the puppeteer that brings Jack’s cow Milky White to life.  He ability to bring emotion to the puppet was a showstopper.

Slow Burn Theater Co / Into The Woods / Ralph Meitzler & Sergi Robles / photo by Larry Marano.jpeg

The roles of the Prince’s were given a new and fresh take on these arrogant characters.  Sergi Robles and Ralph Meitzler deliver these over-the-top, pompous, flamboyant and dare I say gender fluid character adaptations with gusto and fervor.   They had the audience roaring with laughter each time they took to the stage.  Meitzler doubles as the Wolf in the production and is equally adept at playing the grandmother eating scoundrel.

Slow Burn Theater Co / Into The Woods / Jeni Hacker / photo by Larry Marano

In the role of the Witch, we get one of South Florida’s most established theatre actresses, Jeni Hacker.  She delivers a tremendous performance that requires nuance, comedy, and deep emotion in order to make this character likeable to an audience.  She delivers on all accounts and has once again proven she is a force when she takes to the stage.

Slow Burn Theater Co / Into The Woods / Ben Liebert & Matthew Korinko / photo by Larry Marano

In the role of the Narrator and Mysterious Old Man we have Matthew Korkino who guides the audience along this journey with confidence and ease.  His sense of timing and wit help to establish the pace this show.

Another highlight of this show is that it has a live band behind the upstage curtain conducted by James Mablin effortlessly.  Kudos to Rick Peña for his beautiful work on creating the costumes, puppets, and masks for this production, they are stunning.

South Florida is made better by having Slow Burn Theatre Company as our local professional theater producer.  The 23/24 Season is off to a great start and if you want Broadway quality productions brought to you with local talent look no further than Slow Burn!

To purchase tickets to the final few days of Slow Burn’s “Into The Woods” (Wed, Oct 25 at 7:30pm, Thurs, October 26 at 7:30pm, Fri, Oct 27 at 7:30pm, Sat Oct 28 at 1 and 7:30pm, and Sun, Oct 29 at 2pm), which start at $54, go to Broward