Into the woods you go again, you have to every now and then.
Into the woods,
No telling when,
Be ready for the journey.
When I was in high school back in 199(cough mumble), Salesianum put on a production of Into the Woods. I worked after school a couple days a week so I couldn’t be in it, but many of my friends were. I sat through countless rehearsals waiting for them to be done, attended more than one performance, and never ever got tired of it.
Into the Woods takes the fairy tales we know— Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and more— and gives us a little more backstory, intertwines their stories together in that fateful wood. And then peers behind the curtain of “happily ever after.”
Anything can happen in the woods…
It’s fun, it’s tongue in cheek, it’s self referential, and like any proper fairy tale it comes complete with a moral or two. When I was younger, the lesson that stuck with me was the concept of having to write and live your own story. As an adult, rewatching the Bernadette Peters version (thank you, Netflix) and now seeing it on stage at the Wilmington Drama League, the more overt tones of “Children Will Listen” really sort of gutted me. I didn’t cry though, my kids would’ve never let me hear the end of it.
Once upon a time…
Determined to make opening night, I loaded the kids up in the car and drove 40minutes through a torrential downpour to the theater across the street from where Sears used to be, down the road from where I used to take piano lessons. Stuck behind people doing a maddening 45mph on 95 and hydroplaning all the way (this is probably why they were doing 45), we arrived right at 8pm, curtain time. Luckily they’d delayed a few minutes for naughty theater goers such as myself.
I’d paid for these tickets MONTHS ago via a Living Social deal only to find later that the musical was being directed by my high school friend Chris Turner. Piece of awesome #1.
I spent the majority of the first half comparing the witch’s performance to that of the girl who had played the role in the Salesianum performance— that must have been ’93, 20 years ago. It took me until the final song of the first act to suspect that it was the same girl, and indeed it was. Piece of awesome #2.
Piece of awesome #3? Everything else, really. Full disclosure, I LOVE THIS PLAY so very much and I often sing bits of it to my kids. Even walking in with the bias of knowing my friend was directing, I was fully prepared for it to not live up to my memory of that 93 performance or the repeated Netflix Bernadette viewings. But the vocals and performances of the actors were spot on, they were a joy to watch, and there is just something magical about seeing a story unfold live and on stage.
All of the players put on stellar performances, but I think Red Riding Hood, the two princes and the baker’s wife were voted family favorites. There were a few seconds of mic trouble but otherwise everything went off without a hitch— or if there was one, we didn’t notice, and that’s what matters.
If you’re not familiar with the plot:
An ambivalent Cinderella, a bloodthirsty Red Riding Hood, a Prince Charming with a roving eye, and a rhyming witch are among the irreverent characters in this sophisticated and darkly funny fairytale. As a baker and his wife try to break the spell that has left them childless, they resort to dealing, swindling, conning, and lying to Cinderella, Little Red, Rapunzel, and even Jack (of the Beanstalk fame). It looks like a happy ending, bu the Woods have a lot in store for these characters in Sondheim’s delightful and dark musical.
All three of my kids, who are not shy about telling me if they are bored, enjoyed the show and willingly discussed it at length afterwards. Given the late hour and my kids’ ages (15, 12 and 8) that’s a dang miracle.
Cassidy, my 8yo, is crazy sensitive and a good barometer, I think, for younger audiences. She was in rapture through the first act, and cried and quaked through the second. Like any good fairy tale, it was scary but not too scary, dark but not too dark, sad but not too sad, and satisfying to see through to the end.
It IS long, though. My kids were familiar with the songs and that helped get them through, but I was glad we had no early soccer games the next day as we walked to our car a little after 11pm. If you’re taking younger kids, go for the matinee.
All in all, I enthusiastically recommend for adults and kids alike! Go see it before it’s gone.
Plays are a wonderful experience, this one is just lovely and clever and fun, and it is a joy to support local theatre.
They don’t look super enthusiastic, but that’s just because they don’t like admitting they enjoy each others’ company.
Into the Woods
Wilmington Drama League, 10 West Lea Blvd.
aka “across the street from where Sears used to be, down the road from where I used to take piano lessons”
Friday & Saturday June 14th & 15th at 8pm
Sunday June 16th at 2pm
Adults $20, students & seniors $117, kids $11. Tickets can be purchased online for no additional charge, or you can call ahead.
“That’s what woods are for:
For those moments in the woods…”