Perhaps you have heard of the Tony Award-winning musical "Into the Woods," a fractured fairy tale with music and lyrics by the acerbic composer Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine.
For its opening production of the 2008-09 season, the Flowertown Players in Summerville will present this darkly humorous look at what can be taught to children, through fairy tales, and what is implied by the concluding concept of "happily ever after."
There is also the unspoken caveat: "Be careful what you wish for."
Inspired by Bruno Bettelheim's 1976 book "The Uses of Enchantment," "Into the Woods" opened on Broadway in 1987 and won three Tony Awards. The musical intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales and then follows them further to explore the consequences of the characters' wishes and quests.
The main characters are taken from the stories of "Little Red Riding Hood," "Jack and the Beanstalk," "Rapunzel" and "Cinderella," tied together by a more original story involving a Baker and his Wife. It also includes references to several other well-known tales.
Like humans, these fairy-tale characters all want something, or to quote the late billionaire William Randolph Hearst, "I just want a little more."
Some of the characters' wishes are more complex than others: Cinderella wants to attend the King's Festival to snag her prince; Jack (and the Beanstalk), a lonely and impoverished young man, wishes his beloved cow, Milky-White, would give milk; and the Baker and his Wife badly want to have a child.
Curses are placed on characters by an angry Witch, as a Big Bad Wolf stalks Little Red Riding Hood taking bread from the Baker to her grandmother. Also, Rapunzel's beautiful, long, blond locks are cut off for spite.
But suddenly, all realize their wishes.
That is, until the show's second act, when, among various other disasters, two princes, one who married Cinderella and the other the husband to Rapunzel, have grown bored with their spouses and lust after Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.
And although the Baker's Wife finally has a longed-for son, she is unfaithful to her husband.
Viewers are forewarned to stay alert to follow the adventures of these disparate and colorful characters, who were portrayed on Broadway by the likes of Bernadette Peters, Tom Aldredge, Joanna Gleason, Vanessa Williams and others.
Sondheim's melodic songs include "Moments in the Woods," "No One Is Alone," "No More," "Last Midnight" and the most singable one of all, "Children Will Listen," among a plethora of others.
Directing the Flowertown Players' version will be Sean Lakey, who says, "This show delves into the moral and ethical consequences of pursuing your wishes. It has many underlying themes: growing up, mistakes made by parents, accepting responsibility for your actions, morality, all presented in a way that appeals to a wide range of audience tastes — adults and children."
Taking major roles in the play are Sean Bear as Jack and the Beanstalk, Holly Sullivan as Little Red Riding Hood and Kathryn Jehle as Cinderella. The actors will be accompanied by three musicians, and the music director for the production is Tim Fiscus, who also will portray the Baker. The collaborative choreography is by Kari Malinak, Dorothy Smith and Michelle Lakey.
Performances of "Into the Woods" are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday continuing Aug. 14-16, and at 2 p.m. Aug. 10 and 17 at the James F. Dean Community Theatre, 133 S. Main St., Summerville.
Tickets are $20 for the general public and $17 for senior citizens and students, with rush tickets available 10 minutes before curtain for $10. For further information, call 875-9251.
As part of its season and five-week summer Young Actors Performance Ensemble program, the Footlight Players will present its family show, "Homecoming Hullabaloo."
The show is an adaptation of the Shakespeare comedy "Much Ado About Nothing" and will be directed by Eric Dente of New York and performed in cooperation with the Watermark Ensemble, also of New York. The Watermark Ensemble is headed by artistic director k.c. keene.
Performances are at 3 p.m. Aug. 15-17 at the Footlight Players, 20 Queen St. For ticket prices, call 722-4487.
'Face of America'
If you enjoy viewing vintage photographs of significant eras in our nation's history, ETV may have the ideal program for you.
At 10 p.m. Aug. 18, the film "Documenting the Face of America: Roy Stryker and the FSA/OWI Photographers" will be aired on WITV.
The national broadcast will bring to life remarkable stories behind the legendary group of New Deal-sponsored photographers who traversed the country in the 1930s and early 1940s and created a historical record. This mammoth effort was headed by fiery prairie populist and government bureaucrat Roy Stryker.
Stryker's vision, which he carried out by sending some of America's most talented photographers throughout the country in a government-sponsored project, drew ire from conservatives in Congress but was praised by the public. What the photographers captured, for the first time, was a definitive, objective picture of their countrymen in the context of a national identity.
The film features shimmering photographs by Walker Evans, Marion Post Wolcott, Jack Delano, Gordon Parks, Russell Lee and Dorothea Lange, among others.