Into the Woods
UWEC presents everyone’s favorite fractured fairy tale
photos by Andrea Paulseth
Fairy tales are the new vampires. Take a look at any periodical previewing the year’s television and film slate and it’s clear the Brothers Grimm are poised for a comeback. With Into the Woods, set to open Feb. 23, UW-Eau Claire stays one step ahead of the game.
Making its Broadway debut in 1987, Stephen Sondheim’s intricate score and James Lapine’s book seamlessly weaves together beloved fairy tales, including Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Little Red Riding Hood. The narration is brisk, each song a masterpiece, and dialogue peppered with hilarious cynicism. Although most are familiar with the traditional end to each tale, the show delves into the darker questions of what happens after “happily ever after” and poses the characters to face harsh realism. In its entirety and at its most profound, Into the Woods is a lament of the fragility of innocence and, as director F. Reed Brown observes, an allegory for the current economic crisis.
“They took the dark aspects of the human psyche and made the journeys that all of these characters had to pass through,” explains Brown. “What ultimately made this timely for me was that Into The Woods is about community responsibility. You can’t pretend that beans are worth more than they actually are. The sub prime mortgage fiasco and the bank bailouts are exactly what [Sondheim is] talking about: ‘Careful the lessons we teach our children.’ ”
UWEC’s production is a creative collaboration of three accomplished and celebrated artistic visionaries: assistant professor of theater Brown, associate professor of music Mitra Sadeghpour, and associate professor of music Nobuyoshi Yasuda. Over 75 auditioned and the talent chosen is capable of delivering thought-provoking performances.
“In complicated times, such as we have now with such economic and political strife … people are looking to escape and fantasy/fairy tales are a perfect way to do that,” says Sadeghpour. “Much of Into the Woods is about wanting something you don’t have, and I think a lot of people relate to that right now.”