Social Media

Into The Woods - Theatre Royal Bath Review

The highly anticipated new production of Into The Woods is enjoying a short run at Theatre Royal Bath before a highly likely West End transfer.

The Sondheim classic is co-directed by Monty Python legend Terry Gilliam and Leah Hausman (Hausman also choreographs) and is brimming with magic and macabre. It's 3 hours of pure fantasy so cleverly staged.

The company of Into The Woods. Photo by Marc Brenner.

For those uninitiated, the musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine is a mix of classic fairy tales such as Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and more all wrapped together in a fantastical world of giants, a witch and plenty of wonderment, and is based around a Baker and his Wife and a curse that is placed upon them by their neighbour, a Witch.

A genius decision on the creative side is to stage the production through the eyes of a child. The whole world comes alive as on walks a little girl (played on the night I attended by Jessica Barton) who asks the audience if they're ready to begin. Then the curtain lifts and we have lift off. 

The show may be big on the fantasy and that side plays out extremely well but it combines plenty of human elements too in particular love and loss. These may be characters playing out in a fairy tale wood you're constantly on an emotional rollercoaster, especially as the show gets to its penultimate number 'No One Is Alone' which will have you reaching for a tissue. 

Jon Bausor's set is simply astonishing. At every turn, something more amazing happens. That playset world is wonderfully imagined and plays out excellently throughout. There are so many jaw-dropping visual moments throughout the show but standouts include Granny's house and the Wolf in the bed, the huge clock, the Giant sequences and the woods themselves. Antony McDonald's costumes, Mark Henderson's lighting, Will Duke's video and Billie Achilleos's puppets all combine to create a remarkable visual feast throughout.

Lauren Conroy (Little Red Riding Hood) with Alex Young (Baker's Wife) and Rhashan Stone (Baker). Photo by Marc Brenner

With such pedigree already involved in the production casting director David Grindrod has assembled a cast of world-class talents that bring this story to life and I could single out everyone for praise. The central figure of Julian Bleach as Mysterious Man who is striking and powerful in his every move, he narrates the piece excellently and expertly stylises the role. The use of the role as a Grim Reaper in the second act is really clever in adding texture to the events happening.

Rhashan Stone plays Baker well, though vocally he may not have the power of those around him, but he more than makes up for that in how he emotes a song and how he emotionally carries the role. Alex Young is simply dazzling throughout as Baker's Wife, everything she does is amazing and she has such a gorgeous vocal quality. Give Alex all the awards.

As a big Amelie fan, it was always going to be a treat to see Audrey Brisson on stage once more and she combines some great physical work as she tumbles around the stage but also real heart as Cinderella. Maria Conneely's vocals are pitch perfect as Rapunzel, the demise troubled world of the character is played out well. Barney Wilkinson is a cheeky and charming Jack and Gillian Beven a strong likeable Jack's Mother.  

Lauren Conroy gives a breakout performance as Little Red Riding Hood. In what is her professional debut she is fierce, fun and fabulous throughout. A real star in the making. Nicola Hughes has big vocals and a big personality as The Witch and she is stunning. 

Faith Prendergast is arguably the most memorable performance of the show as the cow Milky White. In keeping with the storybook world the design for the character is toylike with Faith bringing out so much emotion to the role, she is instantly loveable. I can't remember ever feeling so much towards any animal in a show!

The show is not just a visual delight but as with any musical by Sondheim, the show contains numerous musical highlights, though it does take a rather long prologue scene before things really get going. A great orchestra under musical director Stephen Higgins does a lovely job in bringing the music to life. 

If you want a show that offers pure escapism, whimsical fantasy and lots and lots of magic then Into The Woods is for you. The show is geared towards a West End run, which will surely happen. It's undeniably excellent. I loved every second of it.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - a phenomenal production brimming full of theatrical magic

Into The Woods plays at Theatre Royal Bath until Saturday 10th September. Tickets are available from

Audrey Brisson (Cinderella) and Julian Bleach (Mysterious Man). Photo by Marc Brenner

Post a Comment


Theme by STS