“Into the Woods,” which was first performed in 1986, intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales and follows them further to explore the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. Sutch said, “Act I is straightforward musical comedy. It skewers Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and Cinderella. But the second act is much more challenging, more serious, darker.”

Act II goes beyond the familiar endings of the fairy tales to explore the effects of wish fulfillment. Professor Sutch explained, “At the end of Act I everyone has gotten what they want, and everyone’s content. Act II demonstrates that we may think we’ll be happy once we get what we want, but things don’t work that way. We usually end up wishing for and striving for something more.”

The play also explores the conflict between parents and their maturing children, as parents struggle to let go and children try to take on the new responsibilities of independence. Characters who have relied on magic to achieve their desires, and the play’s narrator to make their decisions, must learn how to solve problems without help from higher powers.

The Davidson production will emphasize the role of the narrator (played by Will James ’11) to show the characters’ problematic reliance on external powers to resolve conflict. James acts as a kind of ringmaster of the production, with full control over lighting, sets, music and the fates of the characters. When the narrator ceases to narrate in Act II, the characters must take ownership of their actions.

Sondheim’s poignant musical score compliments the play’s themes and includes the Broadway standard “Children Will Listen” among other well-known songs. Sutch said, “You can pour emotion into a song in a way that you can’t with spoken text. Songs provide a shortcut to our emotions.”

Musical Director Jacquelyn Culpepper said, “The music is incredibly complex, with layers and layers to be unraveled. Rhythms are intricate and the text is full of alliterations that would twist any tongue. It requires the skill and balance from singer-actors, and we’re lucky to have talented, dedicated students who can pull it off.”

Sutch also commended the exceptional talent of his cast of 19 students. He said, “I’ve really been impressed by their work ethic and the quality of what they’ve produced so far. It really is the strongest ensemble I’ve worked with at this school this far.”

via Video: ‘Into the Woods’ at Davidson College | DavidsonNews.net Guide.

An all-star lineup of our favorite fairy tale characters hilariously collide as they pursue their deepest wishes and chase their own “happy ever after.” But what happens after the story ends, when all of their wishes come true? Familiar stories are upended and people must trust in more than magic in this delightful, tender modern musical classic. Recommended for ages 8 and up. Contains some mature themes.

“Mr. Sondheim’s score…shows every sign of enduring into happily-ever-after posterity…It will take you somewhere wonderful.” — New York Times

via Into the Woods.