Friday, September 18, 2009

Into the Woods

This post is about the Stephen Sondheim musical play called "Into The Woods" which me and my brother and sister watched last night. At first, Adam didn't feel like seeing it, but when me and Bettina started laaaaughing, we had to talk him into sitting down with us to watch. "Into The Woods" is a modern fairy-tale blend with a comedic twist, merging together such childhood classics as Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and by a lesser degree, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, plus introducing brand new characters: a baker and his wife who desperately wish for a child (notice that when someone thinks of "baker" in the fairy-tale sense, it's always a man, isn't it? Food for thought, huh? And not the baked kind).

It is a play in 2 acts. Act 1 is there to get you reacquainted with the characters you knew as a little boy or girl, and find out what actually happened in the stories, all the while listening to Stephen Sondheim's fast-paced lyrics set to wonderful music. The witch in the story (who comes from the Rapunzel part of the show) is played by Bernadette Peters, who has such a marvelous vocal range, I had no idea! When she does a witches cackle, she can reach those high, high notes like no one I've ever seen! Plus the character she got to play is so funny; who would think that a witch could have some real depth of character? (Unless of course you read books or watch musicals like "Wicked", to those of you who have, I say never mind.)

By the beginning of Act 2, Jack has killed the giant, Little Red Riding Hood survives being eaten by the wolf, the baker and his wife have a baby boy, both Cinderella and Rapunzel get their princes (there are 2 Prince Charmings in this story, and they're brothers! Who knew?), and the witch has changed from an ugly old crone to a young and youthful beauty, but her witchy powers are lost in the bargain. Everybody thinks that it's happily ever after for them, but to be continued... Actually the 2nd Act is a lot better as a surprise. I don't want to spoil it for you. Just know that it's got a lot more drama than in Act 1.

"Into The Woods" is a wonderful story with some lessons to learn from, and even if it's based on fairy tales, adults can appreciate the wry humor and intelligent lyrics of Stephen Sondheim. Check it out at your nearest library if it's got it, and you'll be happy you did, I promise.