“Into The Woods” brought to Foothill Campus


Led by experienced director Milissa Carey, Into the Woods is the newest production coming out of Foothill’s Theatre Arts Department – one that Stephen Sondheim would be proud of. With an immersive and detailed set design, vibrantly colorful costumes, a flawless musical backdrop, and tear-jerking performances from the ever-so-talented cast, this production delivered on all fronts with its own unique flare.

Sam Mills as Cinderella.

Some of the most talented actors and actresses from around the bay area (including Foothill attendees and alumni) participated in bringing this musical to life. With too many skilled performers to name, we’ll start with Foothill’s very own Sam Mills as “Cinderella.” Not only did she hold her own amongst her more experienced castmates, but she truly stood out. Hitting soaring vocals and keeping up with the oftentimes lighting quick musical tempo, she still managed to convey the emotional roller coaster of a young woman finding her independence. We would be remiss if we did not mention the puppeteering performance of fellow Foothill student Mateo Urquidez as Milky White The Cow. Using a one-of-a-kind handmade puppet, Urquidez brought an adorable charm to the character, getting audible “awws” from the audience when he conveyed the sadness of milky white when he was separated from “Jack” [Jack and the Bean Stock].

Mateo Urquidez as Milky White The Cow

Another one of the standout performances throughout the show had to have been Foothill alum Nick Mandracchia’s portrayal of the “Wolf.” Easily the darkest figure among James Lapine’s portrayal of the Brothers Grimm characters, he flawlessly shot chills up the audience’s spine. His performance was a grim reminder of the darkest aspects of the human psyche. Mandracchia followed up such an unnerving performance with the fantastical narcissistic Prince [Cinderella’s] gallivanting across the stage in flamboyant robes in search of his next bride; he is charming but by no means sincere. The dichotomy of the two performances is uncanny, highlighting Mandracchia’s range and creating a truly master-class performance.

Other strong standouts include Caitlin Gjerdrums fiery portrayal of the witch, absolutely bringing down the house with her performance of the “last midnight.” In addition, James Schott’s heartfelt take on the Baker (where he sheds an abundance of tears on command as he sang “no more”) was gut-wrenching. Also impressive was Michael Paul Hirsch’s handling of both the narrator and the mysterious man, who embodied both roles so well that the audience let out a collective gasp as they realized both were played by the same man.

Sound Designer Andy Heller and Conductor Michael Horsely executed the wild and dynamic soundscape of “Into the Woods” perfectly, providing a sturdy backbone to the whole production. The performers and orchestra were completely in sync on every number. Especially impressive, the orchestra played music underneath spoken dialogue at the same pace the performers were talking, in a process known as “underscore dialogue.” The sound effects were on point as well; for example, the room-shaking stomps of the Giant or the ever so slight dings that would occur when a magic bean was tossed on the ground.

One aspect that definitely stood out compared to other renditions of this show was the wardrobe. Traditionally the show goes with a more muted medieval style, but costume designer Sharon Peng clearly had a different and exciting vision in mind. The costumes were bold, glimmering, and colorful. The attire of the princes, princesses, and cinderella’s family were especially glamorous, coming close to a Mardi Gras-esque style. Characters like the baker and his wife who were part of the peasantry had costumes that were a bit more down to earth. This choice added further still to the duality between fantasy and reality that the musical plays on. The wardrobe choices brought a very refreshing dynamic to a classic show.

The set design team led by Yuske Soi did a phenomenal job creating a magical world for this story to take place in. From the hand-painted woods and foliage in the background to the towering castle, a great deal of care and attention to detail was put into creating the scenery. The most impressive technical feat was the handling of Little Red Riding Hood’s Grandmother’s house. Constructed out of wood framing, the walls were made of see-through scrim fabric. The lighting crew then shined a spotlight into the house showing the harrowing scenes that occur with the Wolf inside the house. This creative technique made for a truly stunning visual experience.

This epic production of Into the Woods is running every Thursday at 7:30 PM, Friday/Saturday AT 8 PM, and Sunday at 2 PM – until March 19th. Tickets can be found on the Foothill College website with discounted prices for seniors and students. The show takes place in the Lohman Theatre and parking can be found in lot 8. Truly a can’t miss performance, make sure you get out and see it while you still can!