Fairy tales, folk tales, or wonder tales – they are often told to relay a message, gain some understanding of the universe, or to simply entertain. They often begin with the memorable phrase, “Once upon a time” and end with the equally memorable phrase “happily ever after.” Although they may convey serious messages, fairytales are often funny and lighthearted. And, regardless of when they are told, fairytales and the characters in them can be shaped and reshaped to meet the needs of the various times and places in which they are told.
One of the major themes that audiences should not miss while watching Into the Woods is the necessity of community. Although the tales are as old as time, Into the Woods premiered in 1986 and the problems individuals faced then are similar to the current problems of 2022. Very much like in the year 1986, individuals who have suffered loss or who are navigating an unstable reality may find comfort in non-traditional communities.
Cinderella sings the following words to Little Red after she has suffered loss:
“Mother cannot guide you
Now you’re on your own
Only me beside you
Still, you’re not alone
No one is alone, truly
No one is alone”
The great Stephen Sondheim wanted to express the impossibility of being alone once one finds community. Into the Woods is about finding stability in community even in moments of despair. This message is necessary in a world that seems more separated than ever.
Although our version ends with “happily ever after”, I am proud to say that we have a new community. I know your darling kids will keep the friendships and relationships that they have made over the past several months. They will rely on each other and become their best advocates and cheerleaders. I will cherish my time with them as they have taught me so much and included me into their community.
As for the rest of you, please remember that regardless of how or where community is found, it is important to note, “No one is alone.”
- Lisa Noyes