What do you see when you look at Into the Woods? Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine‘s musical might serve as a kind of theatrical Rorschach test.
Do you first notice the clever conflation of fairy tale stories? Some here are famous and traditional (Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood); others (The Baker and the Baker’s Wife) were invented by Lapine, who wrote the book and directed the original production, and Sondheim, who of course is the composer and lyricist. Mashed-up together and sometimes on a collision course, they serve as the show’s primary narrative.
Or do you tune into a darker underlying message, heavily influenced by Bruno Bettelheim‘s The Uses of Enchantment, a landmark work of psychological interpretation that contextualizes and connects multicultural fables as metaphors and modes by which children come to understand life’s harsh truths? Though often focused on youth, this is a very adult theme…
Click here to read the entire post at Parterre Box.
Categories: Criticism, PARTERRE BOX, Philadelphia, Theater
Great post! I love how Into the Woods can be interpreted in different ways, as both a clever combination of fairy tale stories and a darker exploration of life’s harsh truths. Do you think the musical has a particular message that it is trying to convey or is it meant to be open to individual interpretation?
Hi David — actually, I think there’s a bit of both in INTO THE WOODS. The importance of support and community is one takeaway for me… but at the same time, I think there’s deliberate ambiguity in how those qualities (and many others) are defined and understood.