''Into the woods'' offers fairytale wonderland

BY SHANNON O''SULLIVAN
Daily Arts Writer
Published March 23, 2001

Rapunzel, Cinderella, Jack, and Little Red Riding Hood all intertwined in the same plot? Some may think that one has their fairy tales confused, but the basis of the musical "Into the Woods" is to create a new fairy tale linking several. The University"s largest student-run performing company will present Stephen Sondheim"s "Into the Woods" at the Power Center.

Although the basic outline of most fairy tales is pretty simple, the outline here is very complex. This new integrated fairy tale follows the story of a baker and his wife, who strive to break a spell cast upon them by an evil witch.

The first act, hilarious and hopeful, introduces everyone"s favorite fairy tale character and pictures them binding together to solve their wishes.

All seems like the typical fairy tale, magical and inspiring, until Giants stomp onto stage in act two, crushing houses and other characters. Characters and the audience come to recognize the moral, which is almost as old as some fairy tales, that people must come together as a community and share responsibilities.

In spite of borrowing much material from Brothers Grimm, "Into the Woods" has many new twists. Composer Sondheim began to write a new original fairytale, but decided that the existing classics were too good to look over. From a glass slipper, to Red Riding Hood"s cloak to Rapunzel"s hair, Sondheim uses these classic elements in a type of scavenger hunt-like manner, as once the baker and his wife retrieve these items their spell will be broken. Using powerful original terms, Sondheim begins with the "happily ever after" notion, only to twist it into haywire and mass hysteria.

Director Adam Levi has nothing but praise for "Into the Woods." He proudly said, "I love it. It"s an adult musical that mixes up classic fairy tales and it is very dark."

Special effects range from a witch transforming from old and ugly to beautiful right before the audience"s eyes. The musical is almost completely sung, and at the same time is smart, action-packed, and thrilling. Even the costumes may be thought to have come out of a fantasy storybook.

Whether your favorite fairy tale is Cinderella or Jack and the Beanstalk, "Into the Woods" provides a little fairy tale magic for all.