Courtesy of Siggi Ragnar
Once upon a time never sounded so funny.
In this epic-sized musical, every fairy tale character makes a cameo. Based on the book by James Lapine, “Into the Woods” brings together some of the most beloved childhood fairytales from the Brothers Grimm series such as “Rapunzel,” “Cinderella,” “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “Little Red Ridinghood.” The original production opened on Broadway in 1986.
In the first act, the audience meets the cast through vignettes of their current predicaments. Cinderella is seen being teased by her evil stepsisters while they get ready for the ball; Jack and his mother argue over the fate of his beloved pet cow named Milky-White; Little Red Ridinghood is about to venture into the woods to bring her grandmother food; and a baker and his wife mope over the likelihood that they won’t be able to bear children.
When the baker’s neighbor, who happens to be a witch, hears about their troubles she strikes a bargain with the desperate couple. If they can retrieve four desired items from the witch’s list she will grant them their wish of childbirth. However, these aren’t your typical items. In exchange for a child, the witch demands a cape as red as blood, a golden slipper, a cow as white as milk and hair as yellow as corn.
The musical number “Act One Prologue” ends with each character going into the scary abyss known as the woods.
In a spiraling series of events, each character becomes intertwined with each other’s fate. The audience is left wondering: Will Cinderella be able to attend the ball? Will Little Red Ridinghood return safely to her grandmother’s cottage? How will Jack save his family from poverty?
Act two brings us to a scene of the characters contemplating their paradise. Now with a baby boy, the baker and his wife still long for more in their lives. Other characters also appear to be unhappy with their lives. In the end, each character must live with their choices or learn how to make life better.
The production borrows themes from each fairy tale while posing the question, what happens after happily ever after?
The musical playfully balances the elements of comedy with folklore in this tale of consequences and seeking happiness.
The set displays giant trees and the ornate nature of vines intertwining, which emphasizes the aura of the unknown woods.
Each actor is able to convey the variety in personalities of their characters while adding a little comedic relief.
Stand out performances included Carlye Gossen who was able to capture the mischievous nature of the hooded menace in red and Trevor Chauvin, as Jack, for his portrayal of a young adventurous boy who just wants to have a cow as a friend. Megan DeYoung also did an excellent job of channeling the sinister spirit of the witch.
“Into the Woods” proves to be a joyous event that fairy tale lovers will treasure. The musical doesn’t take itself too seriously and entertains and delights its audience.
A film adaptation of the musical starring James Corden as the Baker and Johnny Depp as the Big Bad Wolf is slated to be released in December 2014.
“Into the Woods” will be playing at the Woodlawn Theatre until March 16. Admission ranges from $10 to $23. For more information, visit woodlawntheatre.com.