CENTERVILLE — Walt Disney Pictures has begun filming “Into the Woods,” with Meryl Streep as the Witch, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella and Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince.
While CenterPoint Legacy Theatre's version of the Stephen Sondheim stage musical won’t feature prominent movie stars, the importance of telling a powerful story remains.
“We go to the theater not only to be entertained but to learn something, something about ourselves,” says Anthony Buck, who directs the CenterPoint production. “That’s really one of the most important things of this show is that it forces us to be introspective and find something of value to apply to our lives.”
While many of the characters in “Into the Woods” are based on Brothers Grimm storybooks, the story being related deals much more about reality than it does fantasy.
“So much of ‘Into the Woods’ revolves around growing up, finding a partner for life and becoming a family,” he says. “That’s the business of life: growing up, finding someone to be with, having children and raising them.”
At the 1987 New York opening, Sondheim explained, “All fairytales are parables about steps to maturity. The final step is when you become responsible for people around you, when you feel connected to the rest of the world.”
There are messages and motifs throughout the show that go beyond the framework of a typical flight of fancy, and stay with theatergoers after they have left the theater. What audiences learn is the effect of words and how we communicate, which is an important trait to develop while understanding the responsibilities of adulthood.
“The words we send into the world shape the world around us,” Buck says. “There are some interesting ways that we have put that on the stage. One of the most important lines in the show, right at the very end, is: ‘Careful the tale you tell, that is the spell.’ I hope we’re able to communicate to the audiences that our actions really do make a difference and the words we say really do mean something to the people around us, the world around us and the relationships that we’re in.”
In his own unique way, Sondheim uses tongue-twisting lyrics and displays his wordsmithing expertise in passages of dialog.
“We’ve taken the time to make sure the singing ‘speaks’ rather than just singing,” Buck says. “Sondheim is so good at making the singing like speech. Sometimes singing actors have a natural tendency to fight against that, but we have a lot of good voices. And these voices are telling the stories through their singing in a really nice way that we don’t often get to in musical theater.”
To achieve this important element the master composer intended required “repetition. A lot of repetition,” he explains.
“We spent a long time in music rehearsals before we put any part of the show on its feet, so we knew what it sounded like. When the actors know what it sounds like, then they know where to go, how to get there and how to be.”
If you go
What: CenterPoint Legacy Theatre’s “Into the Woods”
Where: DavisCenter for the Performing Arts
When: Oct. 7-Nov. 2
How much: $17-$21
Tickets: 801-298-1302 or centerpointtheatre.org