May 16, 2011

A Comment to a Post

A while back That Girl mentioned Into the Woods in one of her posts.  She talked about how no one she knew appreciated the second half, and so they didn't stay to watch it.

I wish she had talked to me.  I have been thinking about it ever since she posted, and I thought I would share my opinion on the matter. (Mostly, because I'm struggling with writer's block and this was what I came up with.)

For those of you who have never seen Into the Woods, it is the story of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood and everyone else that factors in to any of those stories.  By the end of Act I everyone had achieved their happy ending-- some by wishing and some by working.  

As Act II opens, everyone is dealing with the quirks of happily ever after, but overall, enjoying the ride.  Then, life happens.  This, I think is where my opinion differs from others.  Life, in Into the Woods,  is interpreted as a vengeful giant coupled with some infidelity and cowardice.  But here's the thing: I don't think that the writers were trying to say that infidelity is inevitable, or that marriage is a sham or anything like that.  I just think that a trial like infidelity and a giant is easier to portray in such a circumstance than cancer or unemployment or earthquakes. I think that the writers were trying to say that life happens.  That there are consequences to our actions. And what really matters is not what those problems are specifically, but how we handle them. Do we run away and hide?  Do we abandon our loved ones to their doom?  Or do we stand up for what we believe in and fight?  

By the end of Act II the characters have chosen their paths.  And near the end of the musical, when everyone is done deciding, when things look the worst, comes one of my very favorite songs: 

People make mistakes.
Fathers, Mothers,
People make mistakes,
Holding to their own,
Thinking their alone.

Honor their mistakes

Fight for their mistakes
One another's terrible mistakes.
Witches can be right, Giants can be good.
You decide what's right you decide what's good
Just remember:

Someone is on your side

Someone else is not
While we're seeing our side
Maybe we forgot: they are not alone.
No one is alone.

Hard to see the light now.

Just don't let it go

Things will come out right now.
We can make it so.
Someone is on your side, no one is alone.
(this is the best video of it I could find)

So, really the second half of the musical really isn't a cynical outlook on life.  It is a reminder that even after the worst has happened, that there are still those who love us and will stand beside us.  That even when life doesn't turn out the way you plan, (and let's be honest, when does it?) it is still possible to overcome those trials and find another way to live and be happy. And overall, it is a reminder that no on is ever alone.  



Liesl said...

Well said! I performed in this show in college and the second half is absolutely my favorite. As a writer of fairy-tale retellings, Sondheim has had a huge influence on my work.

Katy B. said...

I love "Into the Woods"!!!! Personally, I enjoy the 2nd half so much more than the 1st...and the song you quoted, I often sing to kids when I need to remind then that life isn't easy, but that we're not alone in living it. :)

Living the Scream said...

I have heard this complaint before as well. I LOVE the second half and also Bernadette Peters is amazing! :)

Heidi said...

I totally agree. Maybe this is saying the same thing but I think they're saying that no one's life is a fairy tale and we shouldn't expect it to be. We have to expect bad with the good and just take it all in and deal with it.

Melissa Bastow said...

I have never heard of this (I kind of live under a rock) but now I'm REALLY wanting to watch it.

Emmy said...

That seems weird that people would leave halfway though. It has been years since I have seen that show but I think I took away from it more how you interpreted it.

Annette Lyon said...

LOVE that show! I was in it, ages and ages ago, and I kept finding new lessons in it. I doubt the creators intended them all to be there, but it was a cool experience even so.

I agree about the second act. The story wouldn't be complete without it. To me, one of the main messages is that all our lives are intertwined, and we must all work together--no use pointing fingers or placing blame. For good or bad, we aren't alone, and everything we do affects others.

I could go on all day! Love ITW.

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