Opening Night: Into the Woods at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

It’s not every night the Mayor of Beverly Hills flaps around The Wallis like a bird
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I am still humming the Stephen Sondheim tune “Into the Woods” from last night’s prem of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s production of—what else—Into the Woods at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. The opening night chair was Beverly Hills Mayor Lili Bosse, who announced that “This show is sold out. It’s overly sold out!” before the inaugural performance. The production relies on a little help from the audience and at one point, the mayor and a few others in the front row portrayed Cinderella’s avian friends (this job came with a lovely black bird that was placed atop participants’ heads). I was thisclose to being the hen that lays golden eggs, but the part went to the Android tablet saleswoman sitting next to me.

Into the Woods is a modern and notably darker twist on classic fairy tales, and everyone from Rapunzel to Little Red Riding Hood makes an appearance. The book that the show is based on is by James Lapine (who directed the original production on Broadway). This terrific staging is directed by Amanda Dehnert—who is also its musical director. Last night the two princes got the most yucks on the laugh-o-meter scale. There are some really clever effects, and I did not see the second act coming. The show gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “happily ever after.”

The run at the Wallis ends right as the movie version of the show (starring Meryl Streep, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp, and other heavy hitters) hits theaters on December 25th. There may still be some single tickets available for this show. Give it a try! You’ll be humming, too.

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