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Into the Woods - Concert Hall, QPAC

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by John Andrew (subscribe)
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Stories like your mother never told you
Harvest Rain have guts galore to tackle Sondheim.

Granted Sondheim has an Oscar, eight Tony awards, eight Grammies, a Pulitzer, and a Laurence Olivier award, and wrote the lyrics for West Side Story, and composed A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd.

But Sondheim isn't easy on any level.

Especially Into the Woods.



Despite the number of children at the performance, this isn't the kind of musical where everything ends up as the best possible solution in the best of all possible worlds. The casualty rates make the Godfather seem mild and just because you are a mother-loving idealist doesn't make you safe. Far from it.

And the music must be fiendishly difficult to master.

Harvest Rain have come a very long way : they were always good, but they keep setting their bench-mark higher and higher with superb costumes, and a star-studded cast. Tim O'Connor is clearly not afraid of taking financial risks, and must have spent eye-watering amounts on production and cast.

Rachael Beck, Eddie Perfect and Rhonda Burchmore together in the one show? All three work their hearts out. Eddie may be a better actor than he is a singer but that doesn't really matter he has the audience eating out of his hand as the hapless baker. Rhonda Burchmore dominates the stage even when she is the drab crone of a witch, but steals the show with her transformation to a Mae West style glamour queen, in a costume which is eye-poppingly moulded to her enviable figure, and designed to accentuate her devastatingly long legs. And yes, she is as good a singer as she is an actor. Kimberley Hodgson is a most unusual Red Riding Hood. A pint-sized dynamo, she takes no prisoners. One does not mess with this lady. And there are many other great parts too many to simgle out.

So we have gorgeous costumes, a great band, zinging one-liners, a great set, a stellar cast and Sondheim words and music.

But does it work?

Judging by the audience reaction, the answer must be a resounding "Yes".

The only disappointment is that after all their hard work,, there are only half a dozen performances.

This production should do a capital city tour it is world class.

Director Tim O'Connor
Music Director Jason Barry-Smith

Recommended for children aged 8

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Why? Magic, music and movement
When: 1 - 4 October
Where: Concert Hall QPAC
Cost: $69 - $ 119
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