Into the Woods

The Hypocrites - February 2014

Performed at the Mercury Theater, Chicago

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by James Lapine


"The Hypocrites' reduced-cast production of Sondheim's 1986 fractured fairy tale played up the juvenalia in the first act with balloons and sippy cups, all costume-trunk play-acting. Director Geoff Button's concept might have sounded on paper like artificial coloring, but it made Act II's post–happy-ending destruction all the more harrowing, played out by a game ensemble of singing actors whose quick-changes actually made the story more resonant."

– Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago

“From paper and string and other found objects — in the hands of a wonderfully talented cast and a whiz of a director — The Hypocrites theater company has cobbled together a magical production of Stephen Sondheim’s fairytale mash-up musical “Into the Woods.”… What “Into the Woods” must be first of all is charming; the shadows fall later. And The Hypocrites’ lovely production exudes charm… The trick of “Into the Woods” is giving wings to the more serious, yet also darkly funny, drama of Act II. It is amid this epidemic of personal misery that director Button makes his real mark. Here the cast breaks from earlier farce to become characters struggling with punctured dreams and disillusionment… To the shared credit of Button and music director Matt Deitchman, the turning events only draw the viewer deeper into the woods.”

– Lawrence B. Johnson, Chicago On the Aisle

“It’s easy to be fooled by the chalk and Crayola appearance of this revival and think that this is a production that simplifies an intensely layered piece of work, but the rich performances create a complex emotional foundation that works with the concept to offer a refreshing take on the source material… This Into the Woods sounds great, looks great, and is overflowing with imagination and resourcefulness. It’s the kind of production that will make you want to listen to the soundtrack immediately so you can relive The Hypocrites’ bold choices, because once upon a time isn’t enough.”

– Oliver Sava, Chicago Theater Beat

“But almost as soon as the narrator speaks the opening line, “Once upon a time,” what becomes apparent is how thoroughly director Geoff Button’s vision serves the musical. Here, we don’t get high polish—some realistic replica of woods or wolves or giants. Instead, it’s as if a group of friends have casually come together to put on a children’s show. They wink at some of the lines, at one another, at us. It sounds annoying, I know, but thanks to an energetic, sincere spirit, it’s instead endearing. This playful, rough-around-the-edges quality gives the proceedings a spirited innocence that matches that of the characters… That hits home in the second act… The production grows up along with the play… Because we’ve seen the characters journey from reveling in their high-spirited, kiddie naiveté to being forced to grow up, the haunting “No One Is Alone” carries us from fairy tale to achingly real life.”

– Novid Parsi, Parsing Words

“The Hypocrites’ “Into the Woods” is a wonder on its own: at once a faithful interpretation of Sondheim and James Lapine’s beloved classic… that never loses sight of the Hypocrites’ signature sense of humor…”

– Brian Hieggelke, New City

“The Sondheim lovers and haters will unite in recognizing that the Hypocrites are presenting a wonderful revival of “Into the Woods” at the Mercury Theater… The staging by director Geoff Button keeps the intricate and complex storylines flowing with naturalness and inevitability. The Hypocrites concept is a departure from more conventional presentations of the show, but the company’s production looks and sounds valid, entertaining, and illuminating… The effect is to give the production the feel of a much bigger show that still fits into the confines of the intimate and technically challenged Mercury Theater… The Hypocrites have a reputation as one of Chicagoland’s most adventurous and edgy acting companies… but they come through like they were a musical theater entity, meeting and conquering the demands of the Sondheim vehicle as though they were to the manner born. … This presentation is glorious.”

Dan Zeff, Chicagoland Theater Reviews

“To me, it felt like this production... challenges us to see it new and reflect, while also offering a knowing wink at the material… I left the Mercury Theatre feeling like I “know things now.” I visited an old friend with a new perspective. Moments I took for granted in previous productions struck me in new and, dare I say it, revelatory ways… I found myself in a constant state of awe as this cast kept challenging what I expected from this show. Particularly in the last 20 minutes, which took by breath away – I won’t say any more but that you should experience it for yourself.”

– Robert Bullen, Chicago Theater Addict

  • Directed by Geoff Button
  • Music Directed by Matt Deitchman
  • Choreographed by Katie Spelman
  • Scenic Design by William Boles
  • Lighting Design by Heather Gilbert
  • Costume Design by Sally Dolembo
  • Props Design by Eleanor Kahn
  • Sound Design by Josh Horvath
  • Production Managed by Maggie Fullilove Nugent
  • Stage Managed by Justine Palmisano