Fairy tale opens Playhouse season
It's not likely you'll cross paths with an ogre or elf anytime soon, or call upon a magical being to help make your dreams come true.
But the motivations that so often drive citizens of the fairy-tale realm are not all that unrecognizable to their real-life counterparts.
There are metaphorical monsters to slay in the modern world, after all, in the form of bad luck, sickness and economic woes, to name just a few.
There are plenty of products produced to appease one's yearning to be healthier, happier, prettier, more handsome or wealthier. One learns every action has a consequence -- often one that is unintended (even with the best planning).
Ultimately, the adage "be careful what you wish for" has much relevance and resonance in an allegorical world as it does in reality.
"Life is an unpredictable thing to deal with," said Mark Lamos, artistic director of Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, as he discussed the theater company's first show of the 2012-13 season. "And, along the way, we experience a lot of unhappy surprises."
"Into the Woods," the 1987 Tony Award-winning musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, opens the playhouse's 82nd season, where it runs Tuesday, May 1, through Saturday, May 26. Directed by Lamos, it is co-produced with Baltimore's Centerstage, the state theater of Maryland.
More Information'Into the Woods' The Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport. Tuesday, May 1-Saturday, May 26. $50-$30. 203-227-4177, www.westportplayhouse.org.
Lamos said the story's two main characters, the Baker and his Wife, are reminiscent of a contemporary couple.
"They display this sensibility of a modern, urban couple trying to have a child," Lamos said.
However, in this tale of fractured fairy tales, the people with whom they meet up with in their quest to reverse their fortune and "live happily ever after," include Cinderella and Prince Charming, Jack (of beanstalk fame) and the Giant, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and the witch, who agrees to help them in their cause.
Since its Broadway debut, the musical has become popular with high schools and community theater groups.
As such, student actors from area school productions of "Into the Woods" have been invited to the matinee performance on Sunday, May 6, which also will feature a post-performance symposium with four of the original cast members from the Broadway production.
The reunion will bring together Ferland (the original Little Red Riding Hood), Joanna Gleason (who won a Tony as the Baker's Wife), Lauren Mitchell (who played Lucinda) and Chip Zien, the first Baker.
The playhouse's 2012-13 season will continue with "The Year of Magical Thinking," based on National Book Award winner Joan Didion's account of how she dealt with the death of her husband in 2003 and their only child in 2005. That show runs June 12 to 30.
Molière's "Tartuffe," comes along from July 17 to Aug. 4, while the world premiere of the comedy "Harbor," by Chad Beguelin, will run Aug. 28 to Sept. 15.
The season ends with the classic "A Raisin in the Sun," which will be directed by Phylicia Rashad, Oct. 9 to Nov. 3.
As for "Harbor," Lamos said he is "very, very excited" to be premiering the piece.
"We just had a three-day workshop last month ... and we are really thrilled with it," he said.
Described on the playhouse's website as a "hilarious comedy about the constantly shifting nature of the meaning of family," the story focuses on a newly married couple, Kevin and Ted, whose lives are upended by the visit of Kevin's sister, Donna, and her 15-year-old daughter, Lottie.
Another first, of sorts, will be the production of Lorraine Hansberry's "Raisin in the Sun," the 1959 play that has long been featured on school reading lists. This will be the first time this story of a black Chicago family, living on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s, will be told from the playhouse stage.
For tickets ($50-$30) or more information, call 203-227-4177 or visit www.westportplayhouse.org.