So there’s this incredible budding rapper making her way to San Francisco, and she’s ready to be a part of a major national touring show that’s now in the Bay Area. And no, the show is not about the first treasury secretary of the United States.
While Broadway sensation “Hamilton” is docking in the Bay Area for the next five months, another critically acclaimed national tour lands just around the corner from the Orpheum Theatre beginning Wednesday March 8th.
This version of “Into the Woods,” playing through April 2nd at the Golden Gate Theater, is not necessarily what one might think of when they think of the more traditional version of the show, based on various fairy tales from Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm. First off, this is a show created by the Fiasco Theater Company, a group that puts their very unique spin on classic shows. This show in particular received critical acclaim, winning the Lucille Lortel award (the off-Broadway equivalent of the Tony Awards) for best revival in 2015. Lauded by New York Times venerable theatre critic Ben Brantley, the work of Sondheim and lyricist James Lapine has been scaled down and reinvented for a cast of only 10 and a piano being the central instrument, moving all over the stage throughout the show.
It’s the perfect show for the aforementioned rap girl, who goes by the name of Bonne (pronounced Bonn-e) Kramer. She works hard through the duration of the entire piece, playing and singing multiple roles and also showcasing her strong bassoon skills throughout the show. This is a version that has no real scene changes, a production that is laser-focused on Sondheim and Lapine’s work, pure and simple.
While other big productions might become awash in sweeping costumes and sets that fly around everywhere, Fiasco’s “Into the Woods” gives their audience something much more pure and organic.
“It’s just so really well done – the set and costumes are beautiful, and the whole concept is so unique,” said Kramer. “By making it a more minimal production, the audience is able to focus on the lyrics and words and the amazing Sondheim harmonies.
“We sometimes watch musicals and we really get lost in the spectacle of it. This production allows you to really focus in on the text.”
Kramer is a delight, a bundle of energy that can talk for days. She grew up just outside of Tampa, Florida and headed for New York City not long after her graduation from the University of Tampa. She grew up with a family awash in musical literacy, and was heavily involved in church musicals as early as seven-years-old. That led to other shows in her youth, hiring an agent by 12, and ultimately, a singing gig at the sprawling Disney World at Orlando, Florida.
Extremely driven to perform at a young age, Kramer understood the importance of being multi-skilled and super marketable. Never did she believe that her bassoon skills would help her get a job in a show outside of being in an orchestra, but fortunately, Fiasco’s creativity outside the box gave her a chance to stay very busy on the stage, even when she wasn’t singing.
“I do read music really well with harmonies and rhythms, but I never had to memorize bassoon music on stage before,” said Kramer. “It didn’t occur to me I had to memorize the score before, and when I found out, I thought ‘Oh my goodness.’ It was literally learning another show on top of the show.
“But it is nice to not have a music stand in front of you.”
As of right now, the show is scheduled to close in Texas in late May. When that happens, Kramer is out of work. She has nothing lined up as of yet, which she admits is both frightening and thrilling for her at the same time. She has lots of options though – voice over actor, softball pitcher, boogie boarder, even a killer ping-pong player (second place in a tournament in Long Beach, according to her website).
And if May comes and goes without a gig, it may be time for her to start that rap career. When asked what her rap name might be, she paused and then offered up a very strong option:
“The Notorious B.O.N.N.E.?”
WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU GO
SHNSF presents “Into the Woods”
A production of the Fiasco Theater Company
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
Through April 2nd
The Golden Gate Theater
1 Taylor Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Tickets range from $60 – $275
For tickets, call (888) 746-1799 or visit www.shnsf.com