Bear Stage wraps up ‘Into the Woods’ production with lively musical

The evil witch (center) pushes the ugly sisters during a scene in the final production of Buchanan High School’s “Into the Woods” musical held at Mercedes Edwards Theatre, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. COURTESY OF RON WEBB/CUSD

Bear Stage presented its final production of “Into the Woods” Saturday night at Mercedes Edwards Theatre, but there was nothing melancholic about the show.

It was a lively musical filled with voices of joy, sadness and comedy.

More than just voices, the students of Buchanan High School are talented individuals, and they shined Saturday night.

“Into the Woods” is a musical mashup of iconic fairy tales such as Cinderella, Jack and The Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood. However, in this twist of events, they face more than just their classic obstacle. They battle through love, mortality, desire and even some lust.

The story features an eloquent wolf in the woods, an egocentric prince and a hip, yet evil witch; all fictional characters that dive deep into the human spirit while exploring components of the mind.

A baker and his wife are desperate to conceive but cannot due to a curse. They embark on a journey through the woods in search of four items to break the spell.

But along the way they find more than just four items.

The couple encounters magical creatures that have the items needed to break the spell.

In order to receive these items, the couple splits through the woods and uses charm to persuade the others to give up their precious items.

Everyone was captivated by the witch, played by Mackenzie Stafford. She was evil, yet funky – the embodiment of a modern-day witch.

At times she made the crowd laugh, other times she moved her hips to the rhythm of the music. The evil witch even managed to rap some lyrics all while hunched over walking with a magical staff.

But what was truly memorable was her transformation.

When the couple retrieved the four items, they realized it would not only lift their spell, but also restore beauty and health onto the old witch.

She spun and spun, fog mist covered the stage, and suddenly – without a scene change or a pause – the old witch became a young, beautiful lady.

The spell didn’t, however, lighten her heart. She remained old and evil to the core.

Though all the characters received their wish – the couple got their child, Cinderella attended the ball, Jack sold the cow for magical beans – they encountered even more problems.

This is where the characters wandered into the depths of human psyche. The characters’ actions in this portion of the musical give light to a deeper message: Although you can have all that you desire, there may be a part of you that is left empty.

In this production, the princes were far more more dramatic than the princesses in their song “Agony.” The pair lied on the floor and sang to one another – all to portray the pain they felt.

Though it wasn’t a sad scene, it was, in my opinion, one of the funniest songs as it was played during both acts.

If there was anything the audience can take from this play, it’s to be careful with what you wish for because you may get it all.