The Ryerson Musical Theatre Company (RMTC) was never supposed to happen.
On paper the idea must have read like a pipe dream. Take students from all over the campus, unite them on the basis of their collective love of musical theatre. Off of that energy build a company of part-time performers, production crew and an executive who stage a full show annually. On Wednesday, Feb. 14 the company continued its triumphant knack of happening a third time.
Into The Woods, composed by Stephen Sondheim with a book written by James Lapine, is a musical first written and performed for a San Diego stage in the 80s. It weaves together a collection of classic fairy tale characters as they plunge deep into a fantasy forest, each with a specific quest to fulfil. RMTC has brought the show to Ryerson, at the Betty Oliphant Theatre one block north of campus.
This year served as a key test for the three-year-old company, with a clear ambition to establish itself as a systemic, cultural institution in Ryerson’s arts community.
Director Jarrett Stoll’s take on Into The Woods was a light one. The emphasis of dialogue was focused on comedic timing and the stylistic choices and pacing gave the audience plenty of room and time to laugh amid a script that could just as easily pummeled into darkness. It was the right choice for a Ryerson crowd.
The duo of Emrik Burrows and Boman Martinez-Reid both playing narcissistic princes tangled up with the productions title characters stole chunks of the show. Their rendition of Agony in the first act and their combative albeit intentionally romantic choreography right from their first appearance to the curtain call help direct the show’s comedic tone.
Ceilidh Harrison carried one of the most memorable voices in the production navigating the indecisive romantic entanglement of Cinderella with a charm and attitude that set the princess up well to serve as a needed moral backbone to the rest of the cast. In her graduating year of Ryerson’s psychology program, the two-time RMTC performer’s presence on stage will be missed should she depart Ryerson and the company in the spring.
The star of the show undoubtedly falls at the feet of first-year creative industries student Olivia Deroche. On her very first scene on stage, she breaks down her lines in the form of a rap song playing up and into the show’s comedic bend. Yet in moments of darkness, such as Act two’s Last Midnight, the astounding power of her singing voice is allowed to literally shake the stage.
While the production had its opening night glitches, a few audio mixing bugs, the tendency for mics to sometimes cut out, a misstep here and there on the execution of the choreography and a pace that sometimes felt a little too much like a sprint, these are all minor when held up to the achievements of this year’s cast and crew.
All shows of Into The Woods are currently sold out, running until Saturday, Feb. 17.