Walking into the Prince of Wales Centre last night, Backstreet Theatre Company’s stage was a sight to behold. Intricate, beautiful, clever, there was a clear sense of anticipation before the show started, you knew it was going to be special and they didn’t disappoint.
From the offset the entire space was used cleverly, there was never a moment where the set felt sparse or overcrowded. Not only that, the space was filled with an incredible amount of talent. The story of Into The Woods is a complex one in terms of the number of storylines. Numerous recognisable characters venture into the woods in the search of fulfilling their wishes and dreams, but they have to come face-to-face with the decisions they make along the way and deal with the consequences of their actions.
Leading the way was the Baker and his wife, played by Dave Barr and Caroline Wilson, respectively. Wilson was superb, flawlessly capturing the essence of the Baker’s wife and paired with Barr they were both delightful. Particular highlights included buying the cow for beans, which garnered many a laugh and their charming performance of It Takes Two.
Phoebe Ellabani was outstanding as the Witch. Her emotionally fuelled performance was a sight to behold in Witch’s Lament, with equally stunning performances of Stay With Me and Last Midnight.
Craig Smart and Jack Knight were hilarious as Cinderella and Rapunzel’s steam-punk princes. Their performances were on-point and who knew rollerblades could be used in a Sondheim classic? Stepping into the role of Cinderella, for one night only, was Faye Watson, who came into her own in the second half and paired with Barr, they delivered a heart-swelling rendition of No One Is Alone.
Matt Pettifor is an exceptional performer. Taking on the role of Jack, Giants In The Sky was beautiful, not only vocally, but also superbly acted. His characterisation was dazzling and it is clear to see he that he is incredibly gifted. Whilst Katie Rowley brilliantly took on the role of Little Red Riding Hood, mixing feistiness and comedy to excellent effect.
Special mention must also go to Emma Richards as the pink-haired Rapunzel, Diane Whylie as Jack’s long-suffering mother, Sian Cameron-Prowse and Lucy Watkins as Florinda and Lucinda the ugly stepsisters, along with Matt Hunt and Callum Lerigo who held the story together as the two narrators.
The finale was remarkable as all of the excellent ensemble voices joined forces to create a powerful wall of sound. It was clear to see that both the cast and creative team have worked hand-in-hand to create this production, as musical direction, direction, costume and choreography was fantastic, it was a sparkling example of exemplary amateur theatre directing in the hands of Michele Windsor. The band masterfully injected all the power and passion needed for Sondheim’s beastly show under the musical direction of Gladstone Wilson and the lighting design was an utter spectacle, hats off to Alex Cartwright.
Into the Woods is playing at the Prince of Wales Centre, Cannock until 30 May and tickets are £12. To book, click here or call the Prince of Wales on 01543 578762.
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