St. Michael’s Theatre Musical Society took on the huge challenge of Sondheim’s difficult and dark, Into The Woods, but mostly never took it beyond the superficial level of fairytale in a panto style. A capacity audience were entertained but annoying sound glitches and problems of levels, as well as a panto style set, hampered some fine performers from showing their good talents.

There is a lot of content in this musical that uses familiar folk and fairytale characters to explore life’s journey and disappointments too.

The Baker and his wife are set a task by a Witch to get a cow, as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn and a slipper as pure as gold as before the chime of midnight in three days time. Most of the characters have to journey into the woods to achieve their hopes and dreams.

At one level in act one, it is a straightforward task and journey scenario but the dialogue keeps revealing further clues to the depth of the story and act two is a bleaker, more fearful, more cruel story that ends on an upbeat note with lessons learned and the telling song, No One Is Alone, but be careful what you tell your children, be careful what values you pass on or don’t pass on.

This was a big cast show where Therese Canavan as Witch was always impressive. She overcame sound problems, to excel in Last Midnight and Children Will Listen.

Brendan Redmond as Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince was quality and his rich vocal tones were good in Hello Little Girl and Agony. Jan Kennedy was a fine Cinderella and sang with expression and meaning. Nancy Rochford-Flynn was a rock of strength as Baker’s Wife and Nigel O’Neill as Baker was defeated by a dodgy face mic. The sound team must have been lost in the woods.

Margaret Dunne was a ditsy cameo Granny and Voice of the Giant, James O’Connor, made Jack believable and Caoimhe Kennedy Ryan was a gem as Milky White. Peter O’Connor worked his white socks off as Cinderella’s father.

A quality 13 strong pit gave a fin performance with fine Trumpet, French Horn and Clarinet work in evidence.