“Into the Woods” was a huge hit for the Westside Theater Foundation. The house was full for five out of the six performances, with the final one completely selling out.
During the final performance, the cast was emotional on the stage. Several members became visibly teary-eyed while singing the final chorus. Following the show, cast members reported that the closing performance was indeed very emotional after such a successful run.
Kate Erickson, who performed as the Witch, impressed audience members during a particularly moving song as she cried on the stage. Whether it was the result of great acting or of the sentimental feelings about ending a great show, it made the performance feel like a cinematic experience.
Every vocalist was impressive. Alex Long (Cinderella) and Izvistia Robertson (Rapunzel) captivated the crowd with pitch-perfect soprano trills and vibrato. Zack Erickson and Don Hill who played the princes harmonized perfectly in tenor fashion while singing fan favorite, “Agony.” Crorey Lawton and Cindy Veazy both had impressive belts and played their roles of the Baker and his Wife with comedic flair. Andrew Cochran interacted energetically with his audience while singing “Giants in the Sky,” making his performance that much more relatable.
The Wolf’s (played by Jason King) costume was by far a stand-out asset, and it was difficult to miss the masterful puppetry used by Madalyn Mouton while performing Milky White, the cow. Exciting stage effects were used such as the hidden lighting within the tree where Cinderella’s mom would be, sung beautifully by Renee Adcock Irons. The Witch’s staff got a scream from audience members as it shot a small ball of fire across the stage. A ginormous head fell from off-stage during the fall of the Giant. Reba Causey bellowed the Giant’s lines with convincing deepness.
Linda Hadala played Jack’s Mother and delighted the crowd with her skill and experience. Daniel Boone kept the show moving as he lightheartedly narrated; he also got several laughs while maneuvering a sort of marionette of birds. Little Red Riding Hood, played by Kenzie Irons was bright and youthful in her role with crisp vocal timing. The Step Sisters and their Mother were played by Nikki Ciciora, Ashley Schutt, and Celeste Constancio. Despite the fact that the three are very kind ladies in real life, they performed their characters with a healthy dose of rudeness and dramatics. The character work was superb.
Other performers included Mark Jourdan who played Cinderella’s strict Father, Mike Bilbo who played a hilarious Granny and Sadie Gates who appeared in a beautiful gown as Sleeping Beauty. Abby Grant came out briefly when she doubled for Erickson as the Witch during a stunning costume change.
The entire cast is worth mentioning because every performer stood out and captivated the crowd. Not a single scene ended without an eruption of applause and whistles. The end of the show aroused a standing ovation. The hard work and dedication of the cast and tech crew were obvious in the energy that permeated from start to finish.
Earlene McCleave, Hope King and Jason King put their hearts into the costumes which were as striking as the set. The smaller stage of the Strand Theater came to life with depth and color. The stage crew which included Patrick Wallace, Mouton and Grant, moved quickly and flawlessly during scene changes. Every bit of effort paid off in the end and the success for the theater was well earned.
Jack Burns directed this show as he has done many times over the years. There is no doubt that this was one of his most upstanding ventures and it will leave a positive impact on the Theater Foundation for many more shows to come. The closing reprise was powerful and strong. Not enough can be said about the amount of vocal talent there was. Vicksburg locals who were involved definitely had their moment to shine, but the thing they boasted the most about was the connection they all built with each other.
After a dazzling production, the actors were quick to greet their crowd and smile for photos. A few of them admitted that although the ending is bittersweet, they look forward to what new projects lie ahead. If Jack Burns continues in the direction he’s headed with Westside, the next musical will be sure to please audiences as much if not more than the last two have.See a typo? Report it here.