The darker side of children’s fairy tales come to life in a VCU Theater department production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods, showing now until the end of April, at VCU’s Raymond Hodges Theatre.
Director Kikau Alvaro described the source material, by Sondheim and James Lapine, as a mash-up musical featuring characters from “the Grimm’s Fairy Tales of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Rapunzel.”
Far from the Disney versions of our childhood, these fairy tales were first known to many as dark, disturbing stories by German brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm–kind of like an early 1800s version of Netflix’s suspense series, Dark.
Fittingly, Alvaro listed another nostalgia-tinged Netflix smash hit as a comparable, saying his production “has a sort of 80’s Stranger Things feel to it. “We were inspired by Stranger Things and also the movie Labyrinth, it helped us build the world and find the aesthetic.” David Bowie’s The Goblin King meets the Duffer Brothers? Yes, please.
The storyline of Into The Woods concerns a childless couple who find themselves cursed by a witch until they can find the four ingredients she needs for her potion. Their apparent triumphs are quickly revealed as actual setbacks, highlighting a central theme of the play; nothing is ever as it initially seems, and many things are simply too good to be true.
The show in all will be broken up into two acts, Alvaro said, describing the first as setting the stage by placing everyone together. In the second act, the magic of fairy tales encounters the harsh reality of the real world.
“In act two we see what happens when fairytales go through real-life events, like the experience of loss, and what happens when something giant unexpectedly comes just when everyone thinks they’re good to go,” Alvaro said.
Runtime is around two hours and thirty minutes for the 27 member cast, and Alvaro said it’s appropriate for all ages despite the darker tones. “This show is kid friendly as well, so we encourage everyone to come along and see it, kids and everyone,” said Alvaro.
Into The Woods shows every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 PM for the rest of April, with Sunday showings at 3:00 PM.
Tickets range from $10-25 and can be bought online from VCU Theater’s website.
Photo By: Sutton Photography