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By Kathy Carpenter

Associate reviewer sdtheatrereviews.com

Freelance writer Splash Magazine

May 12, 2017 (Spring Valley) - Not everything is black and white. If you have never had the opportunity to watch Into the Woods, it can be complex and difficult to follow. The more I see it, the more I love it. For some reason, it's one of those shows that resonates with me. Perhaps the show points out we are not on out path in life alone.

Into the Woods is a tale of blended fairy tales: Cinderella, (my favorite), Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Bean Stalk and Rapunzel, that takes us on the journey after happily ever after. The first half of the play takes us through the version we somewhat know and takes all the characters into the woods, leaving them happy at the end. The second half of the show is what their lives could have been afterward, depending on the paths and choices made when they return to the woods.

Chrissy Burns is directing two versions over at The Young Actors theater in Spring Valley. I just saw the junior version and can't imagine the senior version being any better. The juniors were spectacular. I was amazed at these young actors. I look at the program at see all these young faces and ages thinking how can the pull this off. This is really sort of a complex show. Especially the songs, which are kind of like storytelling so there is not really a beat to follow for the most part. But these young actors more than rose to the occasion.  I can't wait to see the seniors.

The moment you arrive at the theater, the scene is set. You enter through a stick-like structure and the aisles are strewn with leaves. This set the tone and invites you in, making you feel a part of the show. I love this.

I've gone to shows in the past with a younger cast and older one. Generally, they are pretty much the same. There is maybe a character you prefer one over the other and sometimes one may be better but for the most part, the shows are pretty much identical. Which means you have more opportunity to come up and enjoy a wonderful show.

This show has a large cast and I cannot talk about everyone, but for me the star who definitely has something special about her Winbush as the witch. She was beautiful, acted like a pro and had a fabulous voice. Emma Ragen as the Baker's wife also did an amazing job. The entire cast brought their best work. I loved the princes, Damon Ojeda as Cinderella's Prince displayed maturity beyond his years, while 12-year-old Jack Gardner stole more than a few hearts in the audience and will soon be a real heartbreaker..When the duo sang "Agony," it was a show stopper.

Into the Woods is a must-see show.

The junior version will do five more shows May 11,12,  and 13th and 7 pm. and on the 13 and 14th at 2 pm at the Encore theater Spring Valley

The Senior shows will be May 25, 26, 27, June 1, 2, and 3 at 7 pm. May 27 - 28, June 3 and 4 at 2 pm. Check out www.yatsandiego.org or call 619.670.1627.


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