October 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Into the What?

by
Narrated by Drew Cleveland.  That’s the first thing you should know about Into the Woods, GSA’s fall musical this year, directed by Moira McMahon.  The second thing is: Book by James Lapine and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd; Company; some of West Side Story, among others), and it’s a modern musical that debuted on Broadway in the 1980’s.  The third thing is:  Peter Howell and Alex Szwez sing together a lot.
Into the Woods is a fairy tale medley, an intertwining of many different stories in which the characters chase and trip over each other on their respective journeys.
A baker (Nolan Ellsworth) and his wife (Lucy Jakub) are an unremarkable couple who live in a Brothers Grimm milieu of dark woods and grand kingdoms.  While adept at producing bread, they are strangely unable to produce a child.  This, it transpires, is because the neighborhood witch (Aiden Ford) has placed a curse on their house.  By a strange coincidence, the only way to break the curse is to go into the woods to find four objects: a red cape, a white cow, yellow hair, and a golden slipper.  The owners of these objects are, of course: Little Red Riding Hood (Kenzie Tefft); Jack, pre-beanstalk (Willem Hilliard); Rapunzel (Anna Ludlow); and Cinderella (Lorna Stephens). They are in the woods as well, for their own reasons.  Jack’s Mom (Chelsey Staples) has sent Jack to sell his cow, Cinderella loses some shoes at a ball, etc., etc.  These well-known Grimm stories get grimmer as the play unfolds.  In the woods are grandmother-impersonating wolves (Finn McMahon-Allwine), mysterious men (Drew Cleveland again), unfaithful princes (Peter and Szwez), and giants who step on people.  After the happily-ever-after, when the stories seem at an end, traditional ideas of childhood fairy tales are literally crushed as these characters brave the woods a second time.  Few of them are alive by the time the show draws to a close.
Highlights include “Children Will Listen,” “Agony,” “Last Midnight,” “Hello Little Girl,” “Giants in the Sky,” and “No One is Alone.”  Into the Woods will have three performances: Friday evening, November 16, and Saturday afternoon and evening, November 17 at the Grand in Ellsworth.
And it’s narrated by Drew Cleveland.
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