Into the Woods is the deepest, most complex production I’ve been a part of.
Yesterday, July 24th, 2016, was closing night of Into the Woods at Edmonds Driftwood Players. I played The Narrator and The Mysterious Man.
This show is a huge masterpiece to take on.
Here is a Short Summary of the Show:
“When a Baker and his Wife learn they’ve been cursed
with childlessness by the Witch next door, they embark on a quest for the special objects ( a cow as white as milk…
a cape as red as blood… hair as yellow as corn… a slipper as pure as gold… ) required to break the spell, swindling,
lying to and stealing from Cinderella (with the slipper as pure as gold) Little Red Ridinghood (with a cape as red as
blood) Rapunzel (with the hair as yellow as corn) and Jack (the one who climbed the beanstalk – with the cow as
white as milk). Everyone’s wish is granted at the end of Act One but the consequences of their actions return to haunt
them later, with disastrous results. A Giant (A female Giant, that is) steps down from the heavens and straight upon
some beloved characters. It takes a few lives before the survivors realize that they have to act altogether in order to
succeed. Thus, what begins a lively irreverent fantasy becomes a moving lesson about community responsibility
and the stories we tell our children.”
Where do my Characters Come In?
- The Narrator, was the person that was outside of time and space with the story, telling it and guiding it. Believe it or not, I narrated the story. With the Narrator, you’re given very little direction as to who your character actually is, and I know that I struggled with developing an actual character rather than just narrating the story. That was a BIG deal for me, I didn’t just want to be another average Joe narrator, I actually wanted to have a complex character to work with. My challenge was to really bring him to life, and I did. I developed a little backstory for him that really helped me develop him into a character that was a bit off.
My Backstory for The Narrator:
You see, the narrator is just a normal guy in his everyday life, feeling pushed around and always feeling like he has no control over his life. In fact, he lives in his parents house still and he’s in his mid 30’s. He’s played it safe far to long, and has very little awareness about how he should really do something with his life, and he is caught up in this fantasy world he’s created. Everyday after work, he comes home and gets lost in this imaginary world where he gets to create the story and has complete and udder control. This is where the story of Into the Woods is born; after a long day at work the Narrator is telling a story where he has control, and he loves it. He holds the one thing he has control over, so tightly that it eventually falls a part, the story of Into the Woods. The defining moment that he loses that control, is when he gives the Giant feelings. Since he decided to give the Giant feelings, he must tend to the giant, and he is the choice for that, resulting in his death.
Giving your characters a backstory, even if you’re playing ensemble, can make the largest difference. That right there is how I was able to have a blast playing the Narrator.
My other character, The Mysterious Man, was the most fun role I’ve ever played. He was a very sudden character, he entered and disappeared very quickly, usually pushing the story forward. He talked in riddles and absurd terms that no soul could understand, endless you were a genius. Or you were the person playing the character. When I first got the script and looked at that role I’ll admit, I was like “What the fuck is this?” But as time went on throughout rehearsals I started to understand the depth of the Mysterious Man more and more. “Oh he’s just a random dude that appears a couple times during the show, he’s super funny though” is what you would probably hear if you asked someone about him who had just seen the show.
But, if you look closer, he really is the one that helps push the story forward – which is interesting to note because usually the Narrator and the Mysterious Man are played by same Actor and they both propel the story forward – but he does this through finally breaking the Baker and pushing him to his farthest reaches. But all of this helps the Baker to realize that when he’s being selfish and caring about himself, he’s really following in his fathers (Mysterious Man) footsteps, and if he doesn’t change, the Baker will turn out like the Mysterious Man.
At the end of the beloved duet “No More” the Baker and the Mysterious Man finally get on the same page and connect, and then the Mysterious Man runs away. Many people must wonder why.
The Mysterious Man runs away for a couple of reasons; 1. It’s his instinct, he’s been doing it for so long, he does it well, and so frequently, it’s all he knows how to do. 2. He knows that the worst thing for the Baker would be to go with him, as he would be following in his fathers footsteps which leads to the tragedy of everything. The reason the spell was placed on the Baker in the first place was because of the Mysterious Man.
I had so much learning to do when I started and by the time Into the Woods ended, I was just beginning. I could only imagine the depth of the show if we had a few months to put it on, it’d be insane. You know, I want to do that so bad, have a few months of rehearsal for a show. That show would be so deep.
The singular best thing about Into the Woods is how much there is to it. I’ve already been through the show, yet there is so much that I don’t know. I want to play so many more characters, and the same characters over and over again. The music is Sondheim so there is an infinite amount of interpretation to be had.
I’ve made so many great memories doing this show this summer and it was definitely worth every second I spent working on putting my best self forward. I loved the opportunity and show so much, that I’m 100% positive that I will do the show again in the future. There is so much more to be looked into for me.
I really would love to play Rapunzel’s prince or the Baker, as they’re both deep characters that I want to interpret.
Never underestimate the power of others. If it weren’t for my directors, I may have had a shallow performance that would be forgotten within a few months, not this production.
Another show in the books, to the future!
RECOMMENDATION OF THE DAY
If you have any interest in watching Into the Woods, I’ll drop the links below. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to watch Into the Woods through these links I get a small commission, your support is greatly appreciated!
Into the Woods (Movie Version with Meryl Streep): http://amzn.to/29XEpq0
Into the Woods (Original Broadway Production, Recommended): http://amzn.to/2a2Qs0M
Into the Woods Original Broadway Cast Recording: http://amzn.to/2abUWSh