Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Into the Woods

Right now, as I write, my favorite musical is Into the Woods. I thought it was Caberet but as much as I love The MC and Sally, I have to say that, at least for now, Little Red Ridinghood and The Baker are just right for me at the moment.

For those of you who don't know, or hate musicals all together, Into the Woods is a story about our favorite fairytale people. These characters aren't taken from Disney, they're straight from their Grimm beginnings. Cinderella's sisters cut their feet and lose their eyes. Rapunzel's Prince is blinded by thorns. And one of the main characters is killed. It was written and originally directed by James Lapine (I meantion his direction because I have the soundtrack and this is what I'm working off of) and the lyrics and music are by Stephen Sondheim (who did the lyrics to West Side Story).

There are two things that make this play so wonderful: 1. The fact that this play is willing to take, what most like to think of as, kids stories and make them much more adult. And 2. the music.

The music was not what I expected, not traditional, harmonic, simple tunes, but hard, somtimes dissonant tunes. If you want to learn the songs, you really have to listen because the music and lyrics don't alway follow the same track, but are beautiful togeter. At first, I thought it was just the strength of the performers, but the more I listen, the more I think that the performers are using the strenght of the songs to make their performances even better.

As for the play being more adult, the song that really stands out to me is Little Red Ridinghood's "I Know Things Now." When I first heard it, it struck me as an innocent song about Red facing her fears and learning not to stray from her path, but the more I hear it, the more I think it's about her first sexual experience. First, the title. What sort of things does she know? That a wolf is dangerous? She already knew that. Then there are lines like "And he showed me things, / Many beautiful things / That I hadn't thought to explore." Take a guess at what she hadn't explored and the things he showed her. These lines "Once his teeth were bared, / Though, I really got scared-- / Well, excited and scared" who wasn't "excited and scared" the first time they had sex? I know that I was. Sometimes when I listen, I think the sex is consentaul, other times rape becuase the guy is a wolf, a predator, and rape seems more likely. Hell, when she meets the wolf in "Hello Little Girl" (a couple of songs before Red's) he as he "devours her with his eyes, mutters to himself":
Grandmother first,
Then Miss Plump...
What a delectable couple
Utter perfection--
One Brittle, one supple...
And then he ends the song with "Goodbye, little girl, / And hello..." These songs aren't just about eating her in the food sense, as much as some may insist they are. Red even sums up the lesson her tale is supposed to embody when she sings:
Do not put your faith
In a cape and a hood
They will not protect you
The way that they should
Toatally two of my favorite songs because they mean so much more than what's just on the surface.

Other songs that are, what I consider, the bes, but not very sexual, except one, are these: "Prologue: Into the Woods," "Giants in the Sky," "On the Steps of the Palace," "Agony" (the second one), and "No More." I can't say what I thinks so amazing about these, they just give me chills every time I listen to them.

Oh, and my favorite line in the enter play is "Once upon a time-- / later"

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