Into the Woods: Intertwining Fairy Tales and Creating a Community

A brilliant GA/Wick cast brings a modern classic to life in a semi-normal year.


“Into the woods, the path is straight / You know it well, but who can tell?” These lyrics from the title opening number of Into the Woods subtly convey a message Stephen Sondheim hoped to express when he wrote the show in 1986: The journey of one’s life will not always turn out as expected.

Into the Woods weaves together and cleverly interlaces several Brothers Grimm fairy tales, among them Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, and Rapunzel. The plot takes frequent twists and turns, especially in Act II, when the characters’ seemingly perfect happily-ever-afters are destroyed literally by a vengeful giantess and figuratively by reality. Dynamic characters are forced to come to terms with wolves eating their grandmothers, a witch’s curse, adulterous royalty, and giants in the sky. Although the various troubles the characters face are fantastical and otherworldly, it’s not so difficult to interpret these problems as having incredibly realistic undertones.

Brian Borowka, Chair of GA’s Performing Arts Department said he decided on Into the Woods for this year’s fall musical because “it was a favorite show for myself and Mrs. McCants, who was actually in it in high school. We enjoy it, and students like it, too.”

The latter statement was certainly affirmed by the performers. Emily Goodman (Cinderella) said about the show, “This is the musical that got me into musicals. It’s a coming together story of different characters from different stories because of a similar problem.”

The biggest challenge in production was, by far, the seemingly ever-present enemy of all things fun, COVID-19.

Borowka said, “We had to deal with masks during the performance—performers will be masked in big groups and can take it off for solos—and social distancing. In this way, choosing Into the Woods works out well because it has a medium-sized cast and spread out actors.” All cast members are fully vaccinated. 

Said MK Blum (the Baker’s Wife), “The biggest challenge this year is dealing with Covid, social distancing, and masks. Connecting with the people onstage is hard when you can’t see the bottom half of their face, but at least we have a live audience!”

The live performances of the show on November 17, 18, 19, and 20 didn’t exactly go off without a hitch: A off-timed smile on Jackson Walker (the Baker) garnered a laugh from the audience following Jack’s learning of his mother’s death and technical difficulties caused the Baker’s Wife (Blum) and Steward (Grace Galvin) to stage-fight over a high heel for several seconds longer than intended, among other struggles. However, throughout these small mishaps, the actors managed to stay in character and improvise their way to the next lines. 

Despite the challenges that COVID-19, the heavy time commitment, and difficult music have thrown at the production team (Mr. Borowka, Ms. McCants, Ms. Megan, Mr. Murray) and the cast, the community came together and created, in Blum’s words, “the best show it can be.”