Quote of the Day: Into the woods without delay, But careful not to lose the way, Into the woods who knows what may be lurking on the journey? from The Prologue for Into the Woods, by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapin, produced by Ten Thousand Things Theater Company, Directed by Marcela Lorca, a play about the terrible and beautiful journey of life. Performances at correctional facilities, shelters, high schools, community centers and colleges, the Open Book in Minneapolis (where I saw it) and North Garden Theater. I am 100% on board with the mission of TTT Theater to bring the experience of healing and storytelling to people, and their brilliance in getting to the heart of a story. I knew they’d show me what Into the Woods is really about. 

The idea of Into the Woods is brilliant. You take some of the main characters from various Fairy Tales and weave their stories together, give them a few more obstacles, and throw in a twist. This is Sondheim, not Disney, so you don’t get the fluff. You get what the Grimm Brothers were actually telling, tales of hardship, abuse, abandonment, poverty, domineering and fearful Lords, and the paths in life are often filled with treachery. 

Brian Bose as the Prince and Sheena Janson Kelley as Cinderella in Into the Woods, Ten Thousand Things Theater, production photos. Through March 24, 2019

In Act One we see all the characters moving through the woods on their journey to find what they need, “to see, to sell, to get, to bring, to make, to lift, to go to the festival.” And, they achieve all those things, but there are consequences to their actions. In fact, at the end of Act One, I thought, isn’t this how it ends? They all got what they were searching for. But, the journey doesn’t stop once you’ve got the girl, the money, the child, or the dance. 

We come back for Act Two and see a darker side to these stories, a side that reflects the realities and harshness of life. As the journey becomes more difficult, filled with loss and despair, Sondheim gives us a song that brings hope and tells us to carry on, “No One Is Alone.” And, probably the most important lesson of all, “Children Will Listen,” so we need to heed what we say and do. The journey continues for everyone, but never alone, Into the Woods “to learn to cope… and find there’s hope,” and go to the Festival, then we’ll find the “Happy Ever After.” 

Cast of Into the Woods, Ten Thousand Things Theater. Production photos. Through March 24, 2019

This company of nine actors, one extraordinary musician, and brilliant director tells this story better than anyone could. They get to the heart of the story and tell it in a way that puts a spell on us, then set us free to learn and grow and share our own gifts along life’s journey with others. All the actors play many roles. The amazing ensemble: Brian Bose, Aimee Bryant, Tyson Forbes, Sheena Janson Kelley, Rajané Katurah, Jim Lichtscheidl, Ben Lohrberg, Elizabeth Reese, and Austene Van. Peter Vitale is the Music Director, and I believe he played non-stop during this performance. Sondheim is difficult, and he’s a master at playing it and bringing the score to life. Some of the actors also played various instruments for some of the songs. Sonya Berlovitz created excellent costumes, and the actors were able to change into other characters with ease. Nick Golfis created a movable and functional set, just enough to give us an idea of place and movement, then let our imaginations fill in the rest. This is Director Marcela Lorca’s first production with TTT Theater, although she’s directed extensively throughout the Twin Cities theater scene and beyond. 

Please visit the Ten Thousand Things Theater website for information and tickets to remaining shows. Some performances are selling out. Into the Woods was on my must-see list this winter, and I’m so glad I was able to go! Thank you, TTT Theater for your brilliant and generous work.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: Who has helped you when the journey became difficult?