City Springs Theatre Company begins their return to live performance this weekend with “Into The Woods” at the Byers Theatre of the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. “Into The Woods” is one of Broadway’s most popular musicals, still in production all over the globe since 1987. Surprisingly inspired by a text on psychoanalytical theory, Bruno Bettelheim’s “The Uses of Enchantment,” the creators of the musical James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim crafted a whimsical story that reshuffles characters and ideas from the world’s collective memory of fairy tales. “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes spoke with Terry Burrell, who portrays the lead role as the witch, and director Kayce Grogan-Wallace about the musical.
The story and lessons of ‘Into The Woods,’ a collage of familiar fairy tales:
“We find that these characters that we know so well – Cinderella, Jack, with Jack and the Beanstalk, and the baker and his wife – we get to meet these characters where we know their stories. We get to see their growth and their determination, trying to find and make things happen… because of their longing and their desire to have more, or to be more,” said Grogan-Wallace. “So the story starts with these characters wishing and is propelled by this character of the witch. And the witch comes in with these ingredients to keep everybody in this cycle of trying to find, to make something happen.”
“They get what they want, but then we find that the characters, like most of us, once you get what you want, there’s still more that you want,” said Grogan-Wallace.
Grogan-Wallace on one of the musical’s stand-out ballads:
“The song ‘No One Is Alone,’ it has always resonated with me. I’ve loved this musical since I was a little girl… but that song particularly, it opens and creates this room for people to know that regardless of your circumstance, regardless of who has left you in your life… nobody is truly alone in their situation. Somebody is always there, in some capacity.”
“The Baker is trying to encourage Jack that you always have somebody, regardless of your situation. And that song is so beautiful, and I feel like it resonates a lot, especially after this pandemic, with a lot of us; because nobody is alone… We are in this together.”
Terry Burrell on entering the character of the witch:
“The witch is seen as evil, but she really isn’t. And we can remember those times when women were wise, and they knew how to use herbs and cure. And they were seen as witches and burned at the stake. And she says, ‘I’m the hitch. I’m what no one believes; I’m the witch.’ I think in that moment, she just lets them all have it. She just can’t stand to be around these people anymore who lie, who steal, and who justify it.”
“I would not have been able to play the role of the witch before now. And what I channel, I think, is [Bernadette Peters’] focus… She gave it full energy. I remember sitting out there watching her, and thinking ‘I’ve just learned a life lesson here,’” said Burrell, of the renowned actress who first played the witch in ‘Into The Woods” 1987 Broadway debut. “She lost herself in the character; I believed her. And that’s what I aim for every time I do it. I want people to really believe that it’s me. They forget about Terry on stage, that I really am the witch, and I’m really telegraphing to the audience and to my cast members that I’m telling the truth when I say anything.”
“Into the Woods” will be performed at Byers Theatre at The Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center July 9 – 18.
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