Into The Woods


This past month, the West Orange High School Theater and Music Department premiered their annual spring musical, Into The Woods. In this show, the Narrator (James Tibang) describes a plethora of fairy tale creatures and characters, including but not limited to Cinderella (Madison Gough) and her stepsisters (Hailey Miller and Joelle Robertson), Jack (Shane Donagher) and the Giant (Amina Anekwe) from Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood (Abigail Insana) and the Wolf (Ben Pierre), Rapunzel (Valentina Pappano) and the Witch (Maria Nalieth). In fact, the lead couple, the Baker (Aden Lugo) and Baker’s Wife (Delia Kravitz), are the only characters not from childhood stories or brothers Grimm. 


Into the Woods tells the story of a Baker and his wife traveling through the various fairy tales to collect a cow as white as milk (Jack and the Beanstalk), a cape as red as blood (Little Red Riding Hood), hair as yellow as corn (Rapunzel) and a slipper as pure as gold (Cinderella) to have a child. After trials and tribulations, Baker and Baker’s Wife delivered the items to the Witch to lift the curse and were finally able to have a child. In the second act of this musical, characters like Cinderella, Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, and Baker and Baker’s Wife who are seemingly living “happily ever after” are faced with a Giant (Amina Anekwe). The Giant is begrudged by Jack’s actions and as a consequence ends up killing Rapunzel, Jack’s Mother (Elena Hause), and the Baker’s Wife. At the end of the musical, characters Baker, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack decide to venture into the woods together and use the lessons learned from their lost loved ones to create a better future. 


Into the Woods provides an interesting social commentary, as it lacks a true protagonist. All the characters are flawed, selfish, and driven by their own interests. Even the antagonistic giant, whose actions are uprooting the kingdom and causing death and destruction, is solely trying to avenge the murder of her husband. The absence of true black and white, selfless heroes and murderous villains, is summed up in the Witch’s line (which can synonymously surround the political politeness of modern society), “you’re not good, you’re not bad, you’re just nice.”