Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Into the Woods
Musical Theatre Southwest
Review by Carole C. Sullivan

Also see Carole's review of The Odd Couple (Female Version)

Matt Miller, Wendy Barker, and Jolie Davidson
Photo by Jennifer Yvonne Photography
Musical Theatre Southwest has a reputation for presenting stellar musical productions. Standing in the footsteps of Albuquerque's former much-loved Albuquerque Light Opera Company, MTS has been presenting outstanding musicals since 1959. Their current offering of Into the Woods is an exemplary addition to this record.

Into the Woods premiered in 1987 and has had many productions on stage and screen since then. The Stephen Sondheim / James Lapine musical retelling of several Grimm fairytales highlights themes that remain relevant. Raising children in a dangerous world and preserving our family heritage and yet letting the children grow are the throughlines of this clever mixture of light and dark, good and bad.

Into the Woods is tricky. Lapine's book is both farce and tragedy, while also satirizing the content of the original tales. Sondheim's score is a composite of overlapping motifs, internal rhymes, wordplay, and psychological nuance. Yet the script manages to present characters we truly emphasize with and musical moments that capture the heart. It is Broadway razzmatazz mixed with opera and commedia dell'arte.

Musical Theatre Southwest has managed to honor all these historical sources while bringing new life to the time-honored traditions. A very accomplished cast that can act and sing beautifully is supported by an outstanding eleven-piece orchestra under the musical direction of Dr. Gregory Gallagher. Director Robb Anthony Sisneros moves the action smoothly and efficiently, yet takes time for quiet moments among the characters.

All the actors deserve kudos, but several deserve special mention. The Baker and the Baker's Wife played by Matt Miller and Wendy Barker are the spine of the show. Veteran actress Wendy Barker delivers a pitch-perfect and nuanced performance worthy of any production of Into the Woods. She is a treasure and a standout. Matt Miller, making his Albuquerque and MTS debut, hails from Denver. His competence as an actor and singer sneaks up on you. He brings humanity to the role of the Baker. Jolie Davidson as the Witch is a revelation and a surprise. Her singing voice is amazing and her power on stage belies her diminutive stature.

Gloria Goodman has designed a library like no other for this production. The stacks of books are stairs and bookshelves open as doors–into the woods. It is a clever and efficient use of space that gives the actors room to move and dance. Costumes by Eden Resnik are well done and work for all the actors. The sound mix with all actors on mics in the small space works without a hitch. This is a well-mounted, professional production.

I think the elephant in the room with any production of Into the Woods is, why is there a second act? The hour and a half first act seems to bring the action to a satisfying conclusion with its upbeat production number. But Sondheim and Lapine are exploring the dual nature of our hopes and dreams, and all that we wish for may not be what we expect. MTS has given us a second act that is full of energy and love for the whole of life's journey.

This is a full two and a half hour production, but a production not to be missed.

Into the Woods runs through March 23, 2024, at Musical Theatre Southwest. 320-B Domingo NE, Albuquerque NM. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2:00 p.m., and Thursday March 21 at 7:30 p.m.. Tickets: General Admission $28, Student/Senior/Union $25. For tickets and information, please visit or call 505 265-9119.

Directed by Robb Anthony Sisneros, Music Director Dr. Gregory Gallagher, Choreographer Luke A Loffelmacher, Scenic Design Gloria Goodman, Costume Design Eden Resnik, Lighting Design Banx Tenorio. Cast: Brian Clifton, Matt Miler, Wendy Barker, Jolie Davidson, Madison Dodd, Rebecca Bonasse, Adam Tedesco, Melody Gallagher, Colin Burdge, R. Adam Berndt, Deborah Flores, Lauren Jehle, Jessica Ubiera, Drew Groves, Tiana Youtzy, Mark Danley, Julie Barnes, Nick Briones.