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Norwich festive fairytales that are more than just panto in Into The Woods

PUBLISHED: 09:04 15 December 2016 | UPDATED: 09:04 15 December 2016

Stephen Sondheim�s Into The Woods is being staged at Norwich Playhouse. Picture: Andrew Butler

Stephen Sondheim�s Into The Woods is being staged at Norwich Playhouse. Picture: Andrew Butler

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Stephen Sondheim's musical masterpiece that blends the plots of several well-known fairy stories is at Norwich Playhouse.

“On the outskirts of the city lies a fantastical forest where curses are reversed and wishes can come true. In the shadows of the trees something magical, fanciful and strange is happening, but wishes are dangerous beasts to manage. In this fairy-tale adventure it’s too late to turn back...”

Fairytales but not as you know them are brought to life in a new festive staging of Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods at Norwich Playhouse.

Sound Ideas Theatre Company, formed in 2013 as part of the Norwich Fringe Festival, by five theatre nuts with an obsession for obscure theatre, follow up their acclaimed sell-out productions of Urinetown and Sweeney Todd with the musical adventure set in a fantastical forest where curses are reversed.

The show is a Tony Award winning musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, which debuted on Broadway in 1986, and in the West End in 1990. In 2014 it was made into a film starring Meryl Streep, James Corden and Johnny Depp.

The musical masterpiece blends the plots of several well-known fairy stories, including Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk — making it something of the perfect Christmas show.

“The woods are just trees” Little Red Riding Hood sings trippingly as she sets out on her journey to Grandmother’s house in the opening number. Subsequent events serve to demonstrate the irony of the line: in this show, the woods are anything but ‘just trees’.

In fact nothing is quite what it seems in this show.

“Our production takes place in a dusty old book shop,” says Sound Ideas joint artistic director Dan Smith. “This warm, familiar and nostalgic setting heightens the sense of mystery in our story. Bookshops have always been a place where stories come together and where we can explore and push the boundaries of the true meaning of ancient tales.”

The show, which is suggested as being suitable for ages 10+, features local performers including April Nash as the Baker’s Wife, Joseph Betts as The Baker, Nicola Myers as Little Red, Thomas Davies as The Wolf, Heather Rudolph playing Sleeping Beauty, Nina Taylor as Cinderella and Rebecca Jillings as The Witch.

Dan added: “Into The Woods is a piece we have known for a long time and admired for its wit and intelligence and sophistication and for the way it lampoons and deconstructs a set of simplistic clichés. As time has gone on, we have come to understand that it’s a quite profound piece about how people are with each other in the world, individually and collectively.

“The relationship between parents and children is the DNA of Into The Woods, which brings together stories that for hundreds of years have typically been used to help children negotiate the transition from childhood to adulthood.”

t Into The Woods, Norwich Playhouse, until December 17, 7.30pm, 2.30pm Dec 17, £20 (£18 cons), 01603 598598, www.norwichplayhouse.co.uk

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