‘Into the Woods’ brings a twist to classic fairytales

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Annabella Mireles

Jacqueline Arellano and Josey Pickett act as Rapunzel and the Witch for “Into the Woods” April 11 at the UTEP Dinner Theater, inside Union Bldg. West, Room 207.

Alberto Silva Fernandez, Editor-in-Chief

UTEP’s Dinner Theatre pre-miered its newest production of “Into the Woods,” April 22 with a story line including traditional fairytale stories such as, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Rapunzel but with a dark twist into the second act.

The musical is based on the original 1987 Broadway musical by Stephen Sondheim instead of the 2014 film adaptation. The play is dedicated to Stephen Sondheim, to honor his life and career as a composer and lyricist, who died Nov. 2021, and Ingeborg Heuser a longtime UTEP professor, who passed away Feb. 14, 2021.

The dinner theatre was originally set to perform “Something Wrotten” as its Spring production, but once the death of Sondheim was announced, they decided to switch to “Into the Woods” to commemorate the great lyricist and composer.

The costumes designed by Jamie Barba and makeup by Ican Cano help transport the audience into the magical world. The characterization of all the characters is imersive, and it is impressive to see the Witch and the Wolf come to life on stage.

fairytalesBryant Webb plays the Baker in “Into the Woods,” April 11 with a pre-miered show April 22. (Annabella Mireles)

The story follows a baker and his wife who cannot have children and later discover that it is due to a curse placed on their family. Throughout the play the audience can see a new perspective of fairytale characters as they witness the interactions with the baker. The baker is responsible for giving Jack the magical beans, Cinderella loses her slipper to the baker’s wife and the baker helps Little Red Riding Hood kill the Wolf.

The opening number, “Into the Woods,” is not only incredibly catchy that will have you singing it as you leave, but also impressive with multiple overlapping parts of the main cast.

“Into the Woods” does an incredible job at highlighting each character’s personality and develops multiple backstories. The story is intertwined perfectly as all the characters’ stories cross paths when they all venture off into the woods.

The chemistry amongst the cast really shined through in their acting, especially with Rapunzel’s prince, played by David Herring, and Cinderella’s prince, played by Zaid Zavala, as they sing their duet “Agony.” The baker played by Bryant D. Webb, and the baker’s wife played by Mindy Escobar-Leanse, are the stars of the show as their story was heartbreaking and connected with the audience. Both actors played off each other very well and their duet “It Takes Two” was a beautiful heartfelt moment between the main protagonists.

The Baker and the Baker’s Wife are played by Bryant Webb and Mindy Escobar-Leanse, April 11 with a premiered show April 22. (Annabella Mireles)

“Into the Woods” is a serious yet funny show with themes about family, trust and relying on others. The play will run from April 22 through May 8.

A dinner performance ticket includes a three-course dinner for all spectators one hour before the lights go off and the show begins. Attendees can enjoy a dinner including chicken cordon bleu with béchamel sauce, wild rice, spring vegetables, garden salad with house dressing, coffee, iced tea, and tiramisu cake for dessert.

Tickets are available at www.utep.edu/utep-ticket-center/ or can be purchased at ticketmaster.com

Alberto Silva Fernandez is the editor in chief and may be reached [email protected]; @albert.sf08 on Instagram; @albertosilva_f on Twitter.