There’s no need to fear a night in the woods, especially when it’s Music Theatre Fargo-Moorhead leading the way.
The 10-year-old theater troupe brings its season of fairytales to an end with the Stephen Sondheim piece “Into the Woods,” a musical packed with symbolism, songs and a few favorite fantasy characters.
Looping together the characters and creatures from the tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel, Sondheim inserts a baker and his wife into the two-act musical, where everyone is after a wish. When the second act rolls around, the consequences of those wishes come true sets up the characters for a “darker” storyline, as cast member Kathy Hanson said.
“It basically tells the story of real lives,” she said. “The woods, I think, symbolize challenges in life, and we all have them.”
Hanson, who portrays the baker’s wife, a funny but “flawed” character,” has been amazed by the amount of metaphors and symbolism found in Sondheim’s script. They’re themes that are as relevant and real as the characters are fantastical.
The baker’s wife, Hanson said, is perhaps the character most affected by a walk in the woods.
“She is the average housewife with a humble home. (She and the baker) are wishing for a baby. They think that will make them happy,” Hanson said. “She falls prey to the temptations … and her ending, I think can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. I choose to believe that she reached the point of happiness with just where she was at.”
Joining Hanson are 11 other actors, ranging from MTFM fixtures like Angie Schulz and Samuel Krauth to company first-timers Shelby Cochran (a Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre alum) and Chris Loeffler, a junior music major at North Dakota State.
Although a dozen players comprise the cast, many more characters make up the show, leading some actors, like Ellingson, to take up double and triple roles. In addition to this, everyone is onstage together from start to finish, whether interacting as characters or watching like the audience.
As a musical, “Into the Woods” is split with songs: music that reflects the character’s feelings and predicament at every turn, Hanson said, adding “Into the Woods” has a challenging score.
“We were afraid to approach it, actually,” she said, “because it takes a musician that can really interpret this music. It’s very difficult music. It’s disjointed, it doesn’t make sense, but it makes sense, if that makes sense.”
Despite the difficult music and character-juggling some actors have to do, Hanson said “Into the Woods” is one show that MTFM unanimously agreed to undertake, especially with a name like Sondheim behind it.
“It is a privilege to do this piece, really honestly,” Hanson said. “He is brilliant and one of the icons for a reason, honestly.”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 26-28, 2 p.m. Sunday & March 1
WHERE: The Stage at Island Park, 333 Fourth St. S.
PRICE: $10 for students
MORE INFO: 701-235-6778