The cast sing the final number in the show Children Will Listen.
The cast sing the final number in the show “Children Will Listen”.
Sophie Webb

Emerging from the woods after Fossil Ridge Theatre’s enchanting show week

“Into The Woods” has been my favorite musical since I first saw it live in February 2020 at Mountain View High School. I loved it so much that I immediately bought a ticket for the next night, which is why I was so excited for Fossil Ridge Theatre to produce this show. Suffice it to say, I was not disappointed.

Every performer did an excellent job. You could feel the passion each member had for their role and all of them were strong singers, an important part of “Into The Woods”. Each main character has their own solo number and each song’s instrumentals have almost no similarities to the singer’s melody, making the fact the cast can sing their notes so easily even more amazing.

Something that has always stood out to me with Fossil’s musicals is the sound balance between the singers’ and the instrumentals, something accentuated with “Into The Woods” due to all the overlapping parts. I’m used to the Broadway cast recordings and poor-quality videos for most musical experiences, so finally hearing what this one character is singing brings a fresh breath of air to something I have already seen so many times.

Baker’s Wife (Hannah Schnorr) sings her solo “Moments in the Woods” about taking the moments life gives her but not forgetting who her true family is. (Claire Kizer)

A notable singer for me was Hannah Schnorr as the Baker’s Wife. It was so different from what I am used to in the best way. She has such a strong belt and any time she had a solo it took my breath away. I wish there was a cast recording so I could hear everyone again, but especially Schnorr.

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Another production-wide aspect of the show I enjoyed was the staging. It truly felt like these characters were lost in the woods and one turn could let them meet the person they have been searching for or their greatest foe.

There was a scene where Cinderella sang her solo “On the Steps of the Palace” which is immediately followed by the Baker’s Wife entering, then the Prince’s Steward, the Baker, the Mysterious Man, and Cinderella’s Prince. Cinderella’s stepmother and her step-sisters are also seen running behind where the Prince was running, foreshadowing their eventual entrance in the scene.

The rest of the cast eventually enter that scene and it makes for the climax of Act 1. A solo scene suddenly turns into the entire ensemble just like that, and it feels very natural.

The next part I adored about this production was the staging, particularly the Narrator’s role. Typically the Narrator stands off to the side of the stage, telling the story when he has narration. However, Jill Ivory saw a different role for this character.

The Narrator (Jill Ivory) stands on stage while narrating a part of the opening song. (Claire Kizer)

Ivory named the character “Twig” and played the character as a mystical creature who watches over the forest. She is standing around the stage during many scenes in the background, just watching. It was unique for me.

Another scene with outstanding staging was “Agony”, a duet between the two princes. Not even mentioning the hilarious choreography between the two princes, the Baker’s Wife hears them coming so she hides at the very back of the stage behind some bushes (with the Narrator nearby).

The Baker’s Wife acts throughout the scene, making her facial expressions big so the audience can clearly see her. She gets a lot of laughs through nonverbal comedy.

Throughout the rest of the show Schnorr’s acting was at 110 percent. Especially any scenes she had with the Baker, Jonah Bryant, felt so authentic and genuine. I am particularly reminded of the part when the Steward steals the golden slipper that the Baker’s Wife needs, but gets distracted, so the two hide behind the cape and cow they have to slowly sneak up to the Steward. It was just a cute and funny moment between the two.

Baker (Jonah Bryant) and Baker’s Wife dance during their duet “It Takes Two”.

Another scene of the two I can not stop thinking about is “It Takes Two”, a song in Act 1 about the Baker and the Baker’s Wife acknowledging how much their journey has changed one another whilst renewing their love.

The choreography and acting showcased how even though it’s a song about being together and trusting each other, they still are not quite on the same page. Especially when the Baker interrupts his wife in her repeated musical theme regarding her ideal person, which was originally sung when she was asking Cinderella about the Prince. This also leads to the scene when she cheats on her husband with Cinderella’s Prince in Act 2.

A character that stole the show was Milky White, the cow puppet played by puppetry lead Hillary Slezak. This take on Milky White was very entertaining as Slezak acted along with the puppet. When Milky White died, Slezak set her down and acted very panicked, running off stage, giving an otherwise sad scene a funny twist.

An extra stand-out feature of this production were the costumes, especially Cinderella’s. I believe she had the most costume changes of four different outfits, one of which was a spin quick-change in front of the audience for her rags-to-riches transformation.

Cinderella (Aderyn Ketchum) transforms into her ball gown after a blessing from her mother’s grave. (Claire Kizer)

Two of those outfits were only seen for a scene or two at most; her wedding dress at the end of Act 1 and her Princess dress at the start of Act 2, both of which looked incredibly well made.

Cooper Hand as Cinderella’s Prince landed every comedic beat. The way he acted right down to his walk accentuated his character as “charming, not sincere”, a sentence the character himself says. My favorite scenes were any of his with fellow actor Matthew Campbell as Rapunzel’s Prince, as their one-upping each other was always funny, and his scene with Baker’s Wife in “Any Moment”.

A stand-out performer for me was Parker Cropp as the Witch. She brought out a more condescending, manic side of the character I had not seen before, especially during Act 2. Of course, her serious moments are played amazingly such as in “Lament”, a song where Rapunzel, the Witch’s daughter, dies.

The Witch (Parker Cropp) points to the character and names their excuse for their actions in “Last Midnight”. (Aislyn McDonald)

However, during “Last Midnight”, the song where the Witch calls out the cast on their hypocritical behavior of blaming each other instead of dealing with the issue at hand. I’ve always seen this song played seriously, but Cropp plays around with the character a lot more, singing with a sarcastic voice and smile to accentuate the song’s emotions.

She then throws all her beans away, allowing the curse that made her a Witch in the first place to take hold again. At the end of the song she purposely falls off the set, supposedly taken by the curse in some way and not seen for the rest of the plot.

The Baker, Cinderella, Little Red, and Jack in “No One is Alone” was just as emotional as I thought it would be and the animation of the giant being defeated looked great. I was very surprised when it came on.

This final song “Children Will Listen” encapsulates all the themes of the show, particularly the one where children will listen to you, not just your words but your actions, too, so you should be careful in how you raise them.

Cinderella (Aderyn Ketchum) and Little Red Riding Hood (Karoline Maloy) watch as the giant is slain. (Aislyn McDonald)

This is emphasized with the Baker holding his child at the end, scared to take on parenthood without his wife. She then comes onto the stage behind him and sings “Just calm the child”, a lyric from the start of Act 2, and a verse with the same melody of “No One is Alone”.

He starts telling his son the story of how he came to be as the Witch starts singing the “children will listen” melody she has had in variations around the show, finally realizing just telling children to listen is not enough, they need to be cared for and taught and loved.

The ensemble ends the musical by singing the main “Into The Woods” theme with Cinderella exclaiming “I wish…!” at the end, showing no one stops wishing, but the journey you take is what truly matters.

I am sad Fossil’s theater could only do three shows but nonetheless they were very exhilarating and I could not keep the smile off my face. Their musicals never fail to please and I really appreciate all the work that went into its production.


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