I forgot to write down what I was thinking about this morning. I know that being a ‘guy who likes guys’ almost mandates an appreciation for showtunes – though I find myself drawn to the darker more intellectual fare of Stephen Sondheim than the usual South Pathetic, Sound of Mucous Rodger & Hammerstein schlep. I just have to tell you how amazing the musical Into the Woods is. It takes five or six fairy tales and the first act interweaves them and entwines them and the act ends with the tales ending as they traditionally do. Act II is when the characters kill the narrator and are left to fend for themselves and endure the repurcussions of Happily Ever After. This show is so big and means so much that you have to see it sometime or at least listen to the score. It is simply amazing. And there are so many layers into the characters. I just have to say Stephen Sondheim is the fucking bomb and has always taken huge creative risks in trying to advance musical theatre out of the Lloyd Webber sphincter we seem to be stuck in. Towards the end of Act II The Witch is realizing that her whole life is going down the tubes she sings
Alright mother when?
Lost the beans again
Punish me the way you did then
Give me claws and a hunch
just away from this bunch.
This is a total fanatic detail but unless you’ve read the story of Jack and the Beanstalk (the original Grimm – not the fey Parrault ones) you’d know that The Witch’s mother punished her for losing the beans in the first place. This kind of history and detail in a play is just so amazing and beautiful and it gives me chills just thinking about it. Or when The Witch and Rapunzel are having a dispute and she sings to Rapunzel – her surrogate daughter
Don’t you know what’s out there in the world?
Someone has to shield you from that world.
Stay with me.
Who out there could love you more than I?
What’s out there that I cannot supply?
Stay with me.
I always choke up here. That kind of naked emotional revelation just makes sitting here in a boring as hell cubicle worth it. I have to do one more excerpt… it is when the Baker’s Wife (a tale made up to string the other ones together) almost has an affair with The Prince and she is talking about her situation:
Well if life were only moments
Even now and then a bad one,
But if life were only moments then you’d never know you had one.
Let the moment go.
Don’t forget for a moment though.
Just remembering you’ve had an And when you’re back to Or
Makes the Or mean more than it did before.
That’s what woods are for.
For those moments in the woods.
Pure genius. It is available on video and DVD – or just get the CD (though the London cast recording is a little better – I think).