After “happily ever after”

*Into the Woods* explores the darker side of fairy tales April 1-3 and 8-10

What happens after “happily ever after”?

Into the Woods
Emily Grosland as Little Red Ridinghood and Ben Ogilvie as the Wolf in Washington University’s production of *Into the Woods,* by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. Copyright Eric Woolsey 2005. All Rights Reserved.

Find out when Washington University’s Performing Arts Department (PAD) in Arts & Sciences presents Into The Woods — Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical amalgam of fairy tale favorites — as its spring Mainstage production.

Performances begin at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 1 and 2, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 3, in Edison Theatre. Performances continue the following weekend at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 8 and 9; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 10.

Tickets are $12 — $8 for students, senior citizens and Washington University faculty and staff — and are available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets. Edison theatre is located in the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. For more information, call (314) 935-6543.

In addition, the PAD will present An Interview with James Lapine at 7 p.m. Friday, April 1, in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre.

Weaving together a host of familiar themes and characters, Into the Woods centers on the Baker and his wife (Justin Huebener and Amy Schwarz), who have been placed under a curse of childlessness by their neighbor, the Witch (Cheryl Howard). To lift the curse, the couple must bring the Witch four magical items: a cow as white as milk; a cape as red as blood; hair as yellow as corn; and a slipper as pure as gold.


WHO: Performing Arts Department

WHAT:Into the Woods, by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, directed by William Whitaker

WHEN: 8 p.m. April 1, 2, 8 and 9; 2 p.m. April 3 and 10

WHERE: Edison Theatre, Washington University, Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

COST:$12; $8 for seniors, students and Washington University faculty and staff. Available at the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets.

INFORMATION: (314) 935-6543

Yet the quest goes well and by the end of Act I the couple has secured the necessary items from Jack (as in “the beanstalk,” played by Chris Jensen), Little Red Ridinghood (Emily Grosland), Rapunzel (Alecia Long) and Cinderella (Kameron Averitt), while helping each to fulfill their own goals and desires. The Giant is slain, the Wolf (Ben Ogilvie) is killed, damsels and princes are reunited. Even the Witch, freed from a spell of ugliness, is revealed as a stunning beauty.

Into the Woods
Justin Huebener and Amy Schwarz as the Baker and his wife.

The end? Not quite.

In Act II, matters grow considerably more complicated. The Baker and his wife squabble over baby care. Rapunzel’s Prince (Chris Wilson) falls for Snow White (Liz Neukirch). Cinderella’s Prince (Ben Ogilvie again) falls for Sleeping Beauty (Luciana Bonifazi). The Witch loses her powers. The Giant’s wife descends to earth, demanding vengeance and destroying houses

“Act I is about getting what you wish for,” said William Whitaker, senior artist-in-residence, who directs the cast of 21. “It’s light and funny and immensely entertaining. Act II pushes things further, as if real life were intruding upon these characters. It basically asks, ‘What happens when we get what we wish for and still aren’t happy?'”

Whitaker pointed out that Lapine and Sondheim were deeply influenced by Bruno Bettelheim’s book The Uses of Enchantment, which explores the underlying psychology of fairy tales, their moral lessons and deeper resonances.

“Fairy tales do have a darker side,” Whitaker explained. “In a way, that’s the point of the play. If Act I is about simplicity, Act II is about embracing complexity. It’s about facing life and making tough decisions and not giving up, because that’s how you achieve clarity.”

The lavish set — by Christopher Pickart, artist-in-residence — was designed to pull a kind of theatrical “double duty,” appearing last fall in professional production at The Clarence Brown Theatre in Knoxville before being brought to St. Louis, where it has been adapted to the Edison stage.

Costumes are by senior Megan Morey. Musical director is Lisa Campbell, lecturer in music in Arts & Sciences. Choreography is by Christine Knoblauch-O’Neal, senior artist-in-residence and director of the Ballet Program. Lighting is David Vogel, technical director for the PAD.

Into the Woods
Chris Jensen as Jack (as in ‘the beanstalk’).