* * *
The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, one of the finest outdoor summer companies on the East Coast, is now adding musicals to its regular repertory of plays by Shakespeare and more modern works in a classical vein. To this end, Davis McCallum, Hudson Valley’s artistic director, has brought in Jenn Thompson, whose Goodspeed Musicals revivals of “Bye Bye Birdie,” “The Music Man” and “Oklahoma!” were of the highest possible quality, to stage “Into the Woods,” Stephen Sondheim’s fractured-fairy-tale parable of innocence and experience. It’s a logical choice for a troupe that performs under a spacious tent pitched on a wooded bluff overlooking the Hudson River, and the results are a triumph for all parties concerned. “Into the Woods” gets done a lot—a whole lot—but I haven’t seen it done this well since the original 1987 Broadway production.
The hallmark of Ms. Thompson’s version is its visual simplicity: There is no set, only a hoop, five green umbrellas, a few wooden chairs and crates, the plain dirt floor of the playing area and a natural backdrop of trees and sky, all of them deployed with the utmost resourcefulness….
The producers of “Sea Wall/A Life,” a double bill of dramatic monologues by Simon Stephens (“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time”) and Nick Payne (“Constellations”) respectively performed on Broadway by Tom Sturridge and Jake Gyllenhaal, are counting money at the Hudson Theatre, where tickets cost up to $339 apiece and are selling in abundance. I guess that’s what happens when you cast two sensitive, exceedingly handsome young actors (who are both competent, not that it matters) in a show about postmodern masculinity. Alas, “Sea Wall/A Life” starts out dull, then becomes just plain awful….
* * *To read my Into the Woods review, go here. To read my Sea Wall/A Life review, go here.
A featurette about the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival revival of Into the Woods: