Theatre that's never happy ever after

INTO THE WOODS

November 23 – December 8

Miner’s Lamp Theatre

Tickets: 4284 8348 or www.arcadians.org.au

Can you have a fairytale without a happy ending?

You can if it's a twisted sort of fairytale, and Into the Woods is one that turns the whole fairytale genre on its head.

The Stephen Sondheim musical, based on a book by James Lapine, tells the tale of a baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family after being cursed by a wicked witch. Woven into this story are the characters and plot lines from several famous fairytales, including Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Cinderella.

While the fairytale aspect of the show gives it broad appeal, it is a fairytale that is aimed more at adults than children. Act One does end happily, but it is definitely not "happily-ever-after" - in Act Two everything begins to unravel.

Rebecca Glover, who is directing the Arcadians production, says the musical shows that actions have consequences.

"There is a fairytale ending at the end of the first act and everyone gets their wish - Cinderella gets her prince, Jack gets rich, Little Red Riding Hood has slain the wolf and is much tougher," Glover says.

"But the second act is much darker. The giant's wife comes to the kingdom, people die, and Rapunzel, who has been locked in the tower, goes a bit crazy.

"It is very symbolic of real life. We all have these fairytales that we listen to, but what happens to those characters afterwards? You can relate it to your own life: happily-ever-after doesn't really happen.

"The second act teaches you that everything you want or desire comes with an opposite effect and there is good and evil in everything.

"It's like that Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: life is the journey not the destination.

"It is a never-ending journey through the woods and the woods represent the difficulties and hardships you go through in life."

Glover has loved Into the Woods since she first saw it at age 16 and jumped at the opportunity to stage it for the Arcadians.

"It's probably my favourite musical and I could watch it over and over again, which is a good thing because that's what I am doing at the moment," she says.

As with any musical, it presented quite a few challenges to the cast and crew, with a lot of moving parts to co-ordinate - including a 15-piece orchestra - but after seeing the first dress rehearsal Glover is confident of putting on "quite a schmick production".

"I don't think a lot of people realise the behind-the-scenes work that goes into putting it all together," she says.

"It's quite a big orchestration in itself to get lighting and sound and costuming and the orchestra, hair and make-up and then the rehearsing.

"Thankfully we have had a great team who have all worked really well together to pull this one off and they have done a fabulous job - it looks really good. I'm really proud of it."

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