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St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland, presented “Into the Woods” to the Cappies Critics on February 24, 2024. Here are the top two Cappies Critic reviews.

Madelyn Regan

Centreville High School


At first glance, the woods hold nothing more than trees. But when audiences at St. Andrew's Episcopal School dared to take a second look, they found themselves on a sprawling journey through forest and fairytale alike. Not only were the woods full of--well, wood--but also a fantastical cast of characters whose complexities shone bright through the eaves and the leaves.


Into the Woods opened on Broadway in 1987 to critical acclaim and has since taken the form of several national tours as well as a star-studded Disney adaptation. The award-winning script and score by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine bring a remarkable twist to the Brothers Grimm tales. As a childless baker and his wife journey through the woods to undo a vengeful curse, their paths intertwine with fairytale characters who have wishes of their own. Unbeknownst to them, the midnights are shorter than they seem, and no great wish comes without a price.


To balance the wicked soul of a Witch with the tender heart of a mother is no easy feat, but Lara Alarapon didn’t just rise to the challenge; she exceeded it. Alarapon’s mesmerizing tones turned to raw, guttural cries during “Last Midnight” as she struck a bone-chilling fear into her accusers before disappearing for good. Gabriel Martinez, on the other hand, brought a goofy demeanor to the dimwitted Baker. Especially impressive was Martinez’s growth, as darker resignation filled numbers like “No More” with an unflinching maturity once the Baker was forced to face the horrors of the woods.


Always the first to steal one or two (or three) of the Baker’s goods was Cecilia Deeny-Locraft as Little Red Ridinghood, whose bright, child-like vocals emanated the young girl’s cheeky nature. Meanwhile, Kamil Owoyemi as Jack recounted fantastical tales of giants with wide-eyed naivete. The two demonstrated impeccable rhythm and timing in “Your Fault'' as they raced across the stage to justify their questionable actions in the woods. Even more prone to unkeen actions was Joel Crump as Cinderella’s Prince, whose charisma enamored the audience with every leap onto the stage.


It’s no question that the backbone of Into the Woods lies in its musical complexity, and the SAES show band perfectly executed Sondheim’s syncopated rhythms and melodies. They even orchestrated cartoonish sound effects in between numbers to accompany a tallying of magic beans or the feeding of strange objects to a cow. These larger-than-life scenarios were played against Audrey Driscoll and Carmen Facciobene’s detailed backdrops, which came straight out of a storybook. The flats along the sides of the stage were designed to turn like pages in a volume, perfectly encapsulating the show within a fairytale cover.


Like the characters’ paths crossing in the woods, the cast and crew of St. Andrew's Episcopal School beautifully wove their talents through the pages of this darker fairytale. By the story’s end, they had poignantly proven that the true journey lies not in the path we take, but in those we travel it with.

Alden Walcott

Langley High School


Fairytales conjure comforting memories of childhood, with characters mingling in a fantastical storybook world, concluding in a neat and tidy “happily ever after.” With a charismatic mix of optimism and heart, the cast of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School’s production of Into the Woods takes audiences on a journey, discovering what happens when happily ever after doesn’t turn out as planned.


With music and lyrics by renowned composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, Into the Woods premiered on Broadway in November 1987 to great acclaim and has been followed by three Broadway and West End revivals and a 2014 Disney film. Intertwining the familiar fairy tale characters Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel, this musical theater staple explores what happens when a young Baker and his wife must run into the magical woods on a quest to undo a witch’s curse that has left them childless. While each character’s wishes initially come true, eventually they must all return to the woods on an urgent mission to save their lives from a tyrannical giant of their own creation.


Lara Alarapon brought the Witch to life with purpose and conviction. Alarapon deftly blended the complex emotions of simmering rage and unrequited love for her daughter with a touch of modern sass, conveying Sondheim’s intended moral ambiguity with panache. Alarapon also had a believably authentic command over the characters facing the giant and used both her physicality and syncopated timing with the orchestra to drive home a message in songs such as “Last Midnight,” ringing a clarion bell that time was running out, both for the characters to complete their mission and for society to work together to achieve great aims.


Bringing comic relief and charm, Joel Crump personified the quintessential Cinderella’s Prince. Bounding onto the scene with a lightness and winning smile, Crump’s vocals were strong, and his Prince was a scene-stealer.  In combination with Rapunzel’s Prince (Eliora Adu), with whom Crump had noteworthy physical comedy and connection, their duet, “Agony,” was full of memorable facial expressions and gestures that enthralled the audience.  Also not to be missed was the Wolf, played with aplomb by Cameron Best, whose every touch of Little Red Ridinghood and lick of his lips brought comedic satire to life.


The show’s technical elements were pulled straight from a fairy tale. The set, constructed by Audrey Driscoll and Carmen Facciobene, was constructed partially as a literal storybook, with one page turned in the book to open each new scene, from Jack’s home to Grandmother’s house.  Of special note was the bed constructed to hide the wolf, which opened from the top to deploy characters jumping in and out of the wolf’s stomach with mystical ease.  The set also included sheer fabric through which images of the woods were shone, adding an eerily luminous quality to the forest at the heart of the show. The orchestra (the SAES Show Band) expertly syncopated its timing of sounds ranging from the twill of songbirds to ominous notes accompanying the Witch’s spellcasting, heightening the ominous edge of the woods.


Into the Woods is ultimately about the choices people make as they travel through the difficulties of life, emerging from them as stronger, more determined versions of themselves.  Though the message can be dark, it is also optimistic. With charm and heart, the St. Andrew’s Episcopal School’s production shows us that “no one is alone,” while entreating each of us to find support in one another.


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