Creating a nurturing, innovative and stimulating theatrical experience as a means to enliven and inspire young people.
Into the Woods Jr.
Photo Credits: Eric Braun, Eric Ladenburg
We want to believe in the fairy tale ‘happily ever after’; it’s the way we’ve been conditioned. There is nothing wrong with happy endings and they do occur, but the reality of following your dreams is grittier, the path is often not what you expected and the end, even if it is happy, can surprise you.
I have been a fan of Stephen Sondheim’s for years, but Into the Woods was never at the top of my ‘to direct’ list. The productions I have seen tried to make the play t into a traditional, fairy tale package and subsequently missed the point. It’s an understandable misstep because all of the familiar trappings and archetypal characters are present, but I think the play is about the journey towards happiness and what happens once the ‘happily ever after’ has lost its luster.
Wishing is at the heart of Into the Woods; it connects all of the characters and also the audience. Like the Grimm’s Fairy Tales, from which Sondheim and James Lapine drew their inspiration, this play delves into the characters’ motivations and longings, examining the darker side of their choices and the consequences of those actions. The play warns us to be careful what we wish for because achieving it may come at too great a cost. Loss is another theme of the play; we all leave someone in order to become ourselves. And those leave-takings are also a wish: to become something more than the person we’ve been.
During this process, I gained a profound respect for the play’s challenges and the professionalism and talent of these young actors, who handle an extremely dif cult score with passion and courage. It is truly inspiring that at this age they are more successfully performing this show than I have ever seen.
While you experience what we’ve created ask yourselves a few of the questions we tackled in rehearsal: What are the ‘woods?’ What do you wish for? Is any price worth paying? And nally, is there ever a straight path to ‘Happily Ever After?’