The musical fairy tale mash-up “Into The Woods” runs October 17 through November 3 at the historic Franklin Theatre, including performances during Halloween, October 31 and downtown Franklin’s popular Pumpkinfest (October 26).
This colorful and clever convolution of fairy stories by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine debuted on Broadway in 1986 and became an instant classic, sustaining its popularity among audiences of all ages through numerous revivals and, coming Christmas Day of 2014, a Disney film adaptation.
“Into The Woods” is definitely a must see for the entire family. “There is so much to love about ‘Into The Woods’, whether you’re an adult, child, or child-at-heart,” said company Managing Director Jake Speck.
The plot intertwines story lines from classic fables and fantasies such as Little Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Cinderella. It begins simply enough with the quintessential fairy tale conundrum: everybody has a wish. And, as wishes in fairy tales are wont to do–(no spoilers here)–they all come true.
Act Two, however, is the yin to the yang—the reality check to the fairy tale.
“Happily Ever After,” after all, is just a matter of when the storyteller decides to say “The End.” What if, instead of merely riding off into the sunset—literally or figuratively—the characters were to continue? “Into the Woods” explores the aftermath of living out the wishes.
“That’s the poignant and amazing part,” shares Artistic Director Matt Logan. “It poses the question, ‘How often do we really even know what we want?’
“Watching these characters from our collective cultural memory discover their own stories and pursue them past their familiar fairy tale endings is both entertaining and deeply thought-provoking.”
As visuals go, Studio Tenn’s production will borrow less from the pages of a storybook and more from the pages of a yearbook. “Stylistically, we’re taking this production in a direction that’s more ‘retro’ than ‘fantasy,’” Logan explains.
Modern and vintage pop culture references will hearken back to the good ol’ days of your youth—whensoever that may have been. “Think of the ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ aesthetic,” Logan claims. Virtually an instant cult classic among millenials, the 2004 MTV film is set in a sort of surreal mishmash of decades—some ’80s here, some ’90s there, with a smattering of ’60s and ’70s—such that the viewer doesn’t quite know when exactly the story is supposed to have taken place.
Studio Tenn’s spin on Little Red Riding Hood reminds of film darlings “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Juno”: lingering in that delightful limbo of adolescent awkwardness. Cinderella’s stepsisters are much like Tina Fey’s “Mean Girls;” her “ball” is more a high-school prom.
The largely local cast includes Kayce Cummings as Cinderella, Susan Swindell Day as Cinderella’s Stepmother and Granny, Laura Matula as Lucinda, Susannah Smith White as Florinda, Kim Bretton as Baker’s Wife, Emily Tello Speck as Rapunzel and Harp, Nan Gurley as the Witch, Marguerite Lowell, as Cinderella’s Mother and Giant, Patrick Waller as Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince, Matthew Carlton as Mysterious Man and Jack’s Mother, Ross Bridgeman as Rapunzel’s Prince, Brent Maddox as the Baker and Garris Wimmer as Steward, along with New York’s Marissa Rosen as Little Red Riding Hood and Joey Barreiro as Jack. And another fresh, interpretive twist, the Narrator will be played by nine-year-old Gus O’Brien.
“Seeing the story unfold through a child’s eyes reminds us how we are all shaped by our own childhood validations,” Logan said. “In the end, it’s not so much about children as it is about the child that manages to endure in each of us—in our hopes, fears, dreams, expectations and imaginings.”
Studio Tenn’s “Into the Woods” runs October 17 through November 3 at the historic Franklin Theatre in downtown Franklin, Tennessee. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit FranklinTheatre.com or call the Franklin Theatre box office at (615) 538-2076.