Originally published on August 27, 2019 by Ken Marks in The New Yorker (“Goings On About Town”).
For its first foray into full-out musical theatre, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival tackles Sondheim. James Lapine’s book is a mashup of fairy tales — Little Red Riding Hood (Kayla Coleman), Cinderella (Laura Darrell), beanstalk Jack (Brandon Dial), and others—that goes on to darkly imagine what follows “happily ever after.” Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics present unique challenges, including wordy, hairpin turns, odd harmonics, syncopation, counterpoint, and daunting intervals. Under the direction of Jenn Thompson, the cast acquits itself magnificently—comedically, dramatically, and, especially, vocally. Also playing, in repertory through Aug. 30: “Cyrano,” directed by Meredith McDonough, stars the terrific Jason O’Connell, sporting a nasty gash across his nose instead of the usual elongated proboscis. This adaptation, which O’Connell co-wrote with Brenda Withers, is freewheeling but ultimately true to the original’s deep romanticism. Britney Simpson is a spirited Roxane, Luis Quintero a touching Christian.