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REVIEW: Into the Woods (Cumbernauld Musical Theatre Society, CMTS)

Updated: Jan 11

26 October 2023

Cumbernauld Theatre at Lanternhouse


Into the Woods, Cumbernauld Musical Theatre Society, CMTS.

Into the Woods is Stephen Sondheim's Tony Award-winning musical based on a number of Brothers Grimm fairy tales. It's complex, clever and darker than you may expect. But then Grimm's fairy tales are much more frightening than Disney would have you believe!

There are important moral lessons and themes at the heart of 'Into the Woods'. Principally, that choices have consequences, and everyone is connected somehow. What impact does one person's 'Happily Ever After' have on everyone else? It's a fascinating concept and an inspired idea. No wonder it won James Lapine the Tony Award for 'Best book of a musical'.

As the show opens (Once upon a time) the narrator introduces: A baker and his wife who wish for a child; Jack who wishes that his cow would produce milk; Cinderella who wishes to go to the King's festival; and Little Red Ridinghood who wishes to take bread to her grandmother. We learn a little more of each backstory, and then all of them set off 'into the woods' where more fairy tale characters await.

Into the Woods, Cumbernauld Musical Theatre Society, CMTS. Photo: Alastair More photography

'Into the Woods' is an ideal musical for a group like Cumbernauld Musical Theatre Society (CMTS) to perform. There are so many great roles that allow multiple members of a talented ensemble cast to shine.

This material is difficult! Sondheim's score is brilliant of course, but it's fast and frantic. Some of the spoken word lyrics and rhythms are practically rapped; it's incredibly intricate and breath-taking when performed well, as it is here. I actually gasped when the Witch sang (rapped) about the greens in her garden. Superbly done.

It does feel cruel to single out any member of the cast as they are all, without exception, excellent. However Gill Deas as the Witch is simply phenomenal. She has the most incredible diction, outstanding vocal delivery and gave a complete performance worthy of any professional stage. A remarkable achievement.

The other standout performance and the highlight of Act 1 for me was the almost show-stealing turn as The Wolf from Harrison Owens. It is a tragedy that The Wolf only really had one song, but such is the nature of fairy tales. From the moment he appears on stage, The Wolf is a charismatic, creepy delight. The crowd loved him, and despite the short stage time, he made a real impact and is one of the enduring memories I take from the entire show.

Into the Woods, Cumbernauld Musical Theatre Society, CMTS. Photo: Alastair More photography

This production is anchored by many assured and impressive performances from The Narrator (Alan Morton), The Baker (Paul Kelly-Copland) and his wife (Lynne Fyfe). They particularly get to show off their tremendous voices in act II. Impeccable casting!

From her opening line 'I wish', Katherine Mitchell proves to be the perfect Cinderella, and Red Ridinghood (Ruth Trower) brings a youthful, mischievous air to the otherwise serious group. Duncan Brown is outstanding as young Jack. His interactions and affections for his cow, and best friend, Milky White are believable and heart-warming. The Princes are both hilarious yet abhorrent, and joyously played by Ashton Montgomery-Norris and Gerard Kane. There are so many monstrous and magnificent characters and portrayals - I could go on and on about the cast, but I won't.

The sound design for this production is impeccable. Live accompaniment from onstage Musical Director Ronan Corkey was aired at the prefect level to compliment, rather than overshadow the central dialogue. I could hear every word clearly from the beginning to the end of this show. That may seem an odd thing to point out, but I've seen near on 100 live shows so far this year, and this is the clearest I've been able to hear. Hurrah, I didn't miss a single word! It's an issue that unbelievably plagues many of the bigger shows and theatres. I really appreciate the attention and care taken here to ensure the sound is right and the actors can shine. Especially in such a dialogue heavy, multiple character show as this. It makes such a difference for an audience goer. That's not to take away from the quality of the music... Ronan never missed a note of the complex score either! It was perfectly balanced.

The choreography in this production is also worthy of note. Understated but very well considered, the movement suited the piece perfectly and really heightened the impact of the tight ensemble routines.

Into the Woods, Cumbernauld Musical Theatre Society, CMTS. Photo: Alastair More photography

'Into the Woods' will never be my favourite musical. I find the second act difficult to follow, and it does run a bit long for my taste. But that's purely personal preference and no reflection on the fantastic job CMTS have done with the source material.

Lastly, I want to mention the effort put into this production by Artist Director, president and sometimes DSM Fraser Morrison. Not only does he direct and produce the in-house shows for Cumbernauld theatre, last night he was calling the show too. His love and care for the theatre is obvious, and this group and local theatre are so lucky to have someone so passionate and capable at the helm.

If I had any talent in the slightest for singing (I don't) then Cumbernauld Musical Theatre Society would be the group I would aspire to join. They are the gold-standard for amateur dramatic groups as far as I'm concerned. Every show is impeccably produced and performed, and 'Into the Woods' is no different. Get yourself down to Cumbernauld Theatre at Lanternhouse this week and support their incredible work.


Into the Woods plays at Cumbernauld Theatre until Saturday 28th October. If you've ever wanted to dip your toe into Sondheim or into the woods, then this company do it very well! For more info and ticket availability visit

📸 Production photos: Alastair More Photography

Into the Woods, Cumbernauld Musical Theatre Society, CMTS. Photo: Alastair More photography

🌟REVIEW: Into the Woods (Cumbernauld Musical

Theatre Society, CMTS)🌟

🎟️ Disclosure: I was invited to review this show and received a complimentary ticket in exchange. Whether I am invited or not has absolutely no impact on my reviews or star ratings.

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💗 To see more pictures and watch my videos follow @Lisa_InTheTheatre on Instagram

Lisa in the theatre. Scottish theatre reviewer. UK theatre blog. Glasgow Theatre. Edinburgh Theatre. Scotland theatre.


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