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I feel relatively sure that Signature’s production of “Into the Woods” is a good one, based on what I saw (about two-thirds) and heard (about one-tenth) of it at yesterday afternoon’s performance. I will never know for sure, though.
We were given seats in the “dress circle,” which in old theaters are usually quite good. However, for this production, our chairs were placed in a spot where we could not see a good third of the action, including the “broad and handsome stairway” (according to Trey Graham’s review last week—we have to trust that it really was there) and whatever happened in a far corner of the stage. Further, the only person we could hear consistently was the wonderful Donna Migliaccio. Most of the rest of the spoken and sung words ended up directed toward the downstairs audience, away from us, and must have drifted up toward the ceiling, lost forever. The very good orchestra tried to tone down, and I am sure it did, but we were so close to the orchestra that we heard it above everything.
We paid full price for these tickets. I don’t think I have ever been so disappointed about a play. It was just awful—so frustrating to be so close and yet so far. We felt we were taken.
We expressed our feelings of disappointment to Signature Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer afterwards. He apologized, explaining that all the idiosyncrasies (my word) of the new theater have not been worked out. We were offered, and accepted, free tickets to see an upcoming production. So, we will give the new Signature one more chance. We hope that future seating plans allow for everyone to see all of the action, and we truly agree with Mr. Graham that this theater needs an “acoustical tuneup,” bigger voices, or microphones.