When Happily Ever After Isn’t The End of The Fairytale
As a child, we can remember many fairytales with the majority of these timeless stories ending with a happily ever after; however, what happens when the story doesn’t end happily? When the story within the story; causes each character to go into the woods trying to figure out their problems?
From the book written by James Lapine, the fairytale musical “Into The Woods” with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, interconnects the plots of Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales, uncovering the outcomes of the characters’ wishes and quests.
It premiered on Broadway on November 5, 1987, In The Woods, won several Tony Awards, which included Best Score, Best Book and Best Actress in a musical. The musical was also made into an American musical fantasy film in 2014 starring Meryl Streep who plays the witch whose own mother cursed her to be ugly.
The four classic fairytales which comprise of this award-winning musical come from the nineteenth –century literature of storytelling are “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Rapunzel,” and “Cinderella; “however this musical has a new fairytale, involving a baker and his wife quest to begin a family.
Once upon a time, in a far off kingdom in three abodes just outside a large forest, we meet a Baker (Michael Mahler) and his wife (Brianna Borger,) who desires to have a child; however, a curse has been placed on his family by a Witch (Bethany Thomas).
A spell has been cast when the witch found the Baker’s father robbing her garden when his mother was pregnant. They are forced to go into the woods to find items for the witch which contain, a white cow, a red cape, a yellow strand of hair and a golden slipper. Once the items are found, the witch can make her potion to lift the curse and grant the Baker and his wife to have a child.
Directed by Gary Griffin, Writers Theatre begins its season enticing its audience to rethink everything that we thought we knew about classic fairytales. In the Woods cast of characters superbly lurks you into the story with wit, and humor in this slightly long musical but its’ very entertaining.
Determine to break the curse; the couple goes into the woods, where they encounter Jack (Ben Barker) and his beanstalk, Cinderella (Ximone Rose) and Little Red Riding Hood (Lucy Godinez). Performed in the Alexandra C and John D Nichols Theatre, Scott Davis’s striking haunting stage design adds a mysterious delight of enchantment to the story.
Artistic Director Michael Halberstam does a masterful job articulating the story for the audience as the narrator, and Mary Poole, as Milky White, was hilarious. Her facial expressions and cow-like demeanor were priceless. We can’t stop laughing about her swallowing items.
Bethany Thomas was magnificent as the witch, and we heard a little Lily Tomlin in her voice. Others like Michael Mahler, who plays the Baker, Ben Barker as Jack, Lucy Godinez as Little Red Riding Hood and 2019 Rowan & Martin Laugh-In duo of Alex Benoit and Ryan McBride, as the two handsome princes delighted the audience with their humor.
Lapine’s crafty one-liners and ingenious comments like, “The things you do, children will listen” along with songs designed to make us think about our feelings during troublesome times; is a simple lesson we still need to learn today.
In The Woods is an exceptional night of theater with a great story about life when things don’t end happily ever after. Each character learns that their endings don’t remain happy; however, they move on with their lives learning one crucial lesson; that no one is really alone.
Let’s Play Highly Recommends In The Woods at Writers Theatre.
Writers Theatre opens 2019/20 Season with
Into the Woods
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim,
Book by James Lapine
Music Direction and Re-Orchestrations by Matt Deitchman
Choreographed by Aubrey Adams
Directed by Gary Griffin
August 14 – September 22
Filed under: ChicagoNow