On Friday, Sooner Theatre opens its season with the Tony Award-winning 1987 musical "Into the Woods," written by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine.
The production draws heavily from the work of the Brothers Grimm and other fairy tales with humorous twists, featuring characters like an ambivalent Cinderella, a bloodthirsty Little Red Riding Hood, a Prince Charming with a roving eye and a witch who raps. "Into the Woods" begins as a lively, irreverent fantasy in the style of "The Princess Bride," but often takes character traits and story threads beyond the confines of the original tales to examine themes of growing up, the relationships of parents and children, responsibility and wish fulfillment.
One of Sondheim's most popular works, "Into the Woods" remains a relevant and rare modern classic.
The play is the directorial debut of Sooner's production manager, Brandon Adams, who fell for the stage as a child, watching his mother rehearse and star in productions. Adams said he's had a long-standing relationship with the musical.
"It's always been a favorite," he said. "I've been privileged enough to perform in it, and it's a show that is near and dear to my heart. Growing up, we had a PBS version with the original Broadway cast, so I probably knew the whole thing by heart by the time I was 8 or 9 years old."
That familiarity lent insight to the script and its appeal to a wide range of age groups, Adams said. Kids can identify with the fairy tale characters introduced in the first act, while adults will appreciate the examination of some of the darker, more complex issues in the second act.
The popularity of "Into the Woods" in theater circles brought out a diverse group of high-caliber performers from all over the metro and beyond "? from Edmond, Guthrie, Noble and Norman.
"The cast has been, far and away, since I've been here, the most talented that has graced our stage at the Sooner, and that's a testament to this show and rivals any other professional theater in the metro area," Adams said, praising lyricist and composer Sondheim's "intelligent, very witty score."
"You'll catch little details that you never saw before when you watch it for a second or third time," he said. "There is a wide array of styles "? from upbeat comedic numbers to beautiful ballads. You'll laugh, you'll cry and everything in between with this show."
The Sooner Theatre's "Sooner Stage Presents" series continues with "Annie," opening in November. "?Eric Webb