Paramount Theatre Presents INTO THE WOODS Review — Diving Deeper into Fairytales

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Trees, trees, and more trees…

As we walk into the Paramount Theatre, the stage has been transformed into an enchanted forest. Trees stand on almost every inch of the stage disappearing into the ceiling above. Soft lighting cascades down in reds, blues, yellows, and amber making it feel like dusk. Tiny specs of light dance around the trees like fairies. Old and crumbling castle towers bookend the sides of the stage adding an air of mystery. We prepare to embark on a journey in Into The Woods

Venturing Deep Into the Woods at Paramount

A man walks out on stage in a long red coat and looks genially out at us in the audience. He starts like any fairy tale does with once upon a time…The audience claps and cheers and we can already tell this musical is a fan favorite.

We know our cast of characters and their cautionary fairy tales - the Baker and his wife (Stephen Schellhardt and Sarah Bockel), Cinderella (Hannah Louise Fernandes), Little Red Riding Hood (Lucy Panush), and Jack ( Will Koski). But here, we dive deeper under the surface besides reading their stories from a book. We feel the fairytale come to life as we hear these characters’ wishes as they sing the prologue, Into the Woods

Fernandes plays Cinderella as uncertain if a royal life is what she truly desires or is it just freedom she wants?

The Baker and his Wife’s challenge of having a child may not be what every couple goes through (namely collecting magic items to break a witch’s curse), but their learning to trust each other may resonate as Schellhardt and Bockel sing It Takes Two

We find ourselves understanding how Jack can become best friends with a cow as Adam Fane puppets Milky White with the playfulness of a puppy. 

As Panush makes her way through the forest with the most determined air, we feel she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. 

And Natalie Weiss as the Witch joins these characters together as a powerful presence onstage. She shows a softer side in Stay With Me, but belts in anger in Last Midnight.  

The first act carries a magical, dreamy air as these characters journey to make their wishes come true. But in the second act—no spoilers here—we feel the tone shift to self-reflective as we find out what happens after happily-ever-after. 

Theatrical Elements on a Broadway Scale

In addition to the main cast of characters, each of the other members of the cast from the ensemble to the evil stepfamily add to the magical and comedic world of Into the Woods. The princes played by Alex Syiek and Devin DeSantis have the audience doubled over in laughter as they puff their chests out and show off their best angles in Agony. Those who love this musical, like this writer, will not be disappointed as all the cast show off their ample musical abilities to deliver the score.

The costumes are rich and full of texture. Cinderella changes from her usual skirt and apron into a sparkling champagne gown adorned with flowers. The Witch hides herself underneath a rich plum colored cloak and bears a staff that glows a poisonous green. The Baker himself is in sensible brown slacks, a forest green jacket, and pageboy cap. We notice all the fine details in these costumes designed by Jordan Ross that add to each of their characterizations. 

Clocking in at just about three hours, this production of Into The Woods is a full night out. For those who love Broadway scale productions with grand set designs, costumes, and lots of music this would be a good fit for you. 


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Stacie Bono (Witch), Larry Yando (Narrator/Mysterious Man), Sarah Bockel (Baker’s Wife), Stephen Schellhardt (Baker), Hannah Fernandes (Cinderella), Will Koski (Jack), Alex Syiek (Cinderella's Prince/Wolf), Devin DeSantis (Rapunzel's Prince), Lucy Panush (Little Red Ridinghood), Molly Hernández (Rapunzel), Christine Bunuan (Jack's Mother), Stephanie Diaz (Milky White), Kelli Harrington (Cinderella’s Stepmother), Landree Fleming (Lucinda), Ann Delaney (Florinda), Dana Tretta (Granny/Cinderella’s Mother/Giant), Dakota Hughes (Steward) and Nnamdi K. Nwankwo (Cinderella’s Father).  Ensemble members are Grace Bobber, Marta Bady, Alanna Chavez, Adam Fane, Darian Goulding, Sophie Grimm and Ryan Stajmiger.


Jim Corti and Trent Stork, co-directors; Kasey Alfonso, choreographer; Kory Danielson, music director, supervisor and conductor; Jeffrey D. Kmiec, scenic designer; Jordan Ross, costume designer; José Santiago, lighting designer; Adam Rosenthal, sound designer; Paul Deziel, projection designer; Jesse Mooney-Bullock, Puppet Designer; Katie Cordts, wig, hair and makeup designer; Jesse Gaffney, properties designer; Ethan Deppe, electronic music designer; Cameron Tragesser, associate music director and associate conductor; Jinni Pike, stage manager; Maegan Burnell, assistant stage manager; and Lanita VanderSchaaf, assistant stage manager.


February 1-March 19, 2023

Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Thursdays at 7 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.


Paramount Theatre
23 E. Galena Blvd.



For more information and tickets visit the Paramount Theatre website.

Photos: Liz Lauren

Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago.

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Alexis Bugajski

About the Author: Alexis Bugajski

Alexis is a theater reviewer, travel bug, media specialist, and burger & beer enthusiast. During the day she works in the advertising business as a senior communications designer. When night falls, or when she can escape to New York, she’s hitting the theaters to see as many shows as she can. And whenever she’s not at her desk or in the audience, she’s out seeking the best burger and beer offerings in Chicago.

Editor's Note:  Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Alexis Bugajski

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