If you’ve watched the recent movie “Jack the Giant Slayer,” you’ve heard Jack’s angry uncle order him to sell his lovely white horse.
Maybe your memory protested: “Hey, isn’t it supposed to be his angry mother, who insists he sell the family cow?”
That’s just one example of the diverse forms a fairy tale can take. For another, compare the ending of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” (Ariel marries her prince) with Hans Christian Andersen’s story, in which she gets to exist as “a daughter of the air” as a reward for not murdering the prince, who had just married someone else.
To see some traditional fairy tales really turned on their heads, you’re invited to the Phoenix Performing Arts Centre in Duryea, where The Limelight Players will present “Into the Woods” April 5 through 7.
“An ambivalent Cinderella, a blood-thirsty Little Red Riding Hood, a Prince Charming with a roving eye, a witch who raps. They’re all among the cockeyed characters in James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s fractured fairy tale,” as director Kim Crofchick described the show.
One of the first “cockeyed characters” you’ll meet is Jack’s Mother, who has a lot of complaints.
” I wish my son were not a fool. I wish my house was not a mess. I wish the cow was full of milk,” she sings. “I wish the house was full of gold. I wish a lot of things.”
She’s not the only villager who’s dissatisfied. Son Jack would like his cow to give milk. Cinderella wants to go to a festival, and it’s safe to say she’d rather not pick out the lentils her stepmother threw into the fire.
Meanwhile, the baker and his wife wish for a child. And, soon they’ll learn why they haven’t been able to become parents.
A witch put a spell on their family after she found Jack’s father stealing from her garden to satisfy the cravings of a pregnant wife.
“Rooting through my rutabaga. Raiding my arugula. Ripping up my rampion,” she remembers.
In order to break the curse, the baker and his wife have to find “a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn and a slipper as pure as gold.”
With Jack having a cow, Red Riding Hood on her way to visit her grandmother, the blonde Rapunzel locked in a tower and Cinderella’s feet encased in special shoes, they’re bound to find what they need.
But, will they everyone live happily ever after? Will anyone?
After a giant arrives, stepping down from the heavens “and straight upon some beloved characters,” Crofchick said, “It takes a few lives before the survivors realize they have to act together in order to succeed.”
Along the way to that discovery, the director said, audiences can expect to see a lot of hilarity, as when “the three little pigs are chasing their wolf with baseball bats while Little Red Riding Hood comes skipping along,” oblivious to the danger from her wolf.
In addition to two wolves, the show boasts two princes. Cinderella’s Prince and Rapunzel’s Prince are brothers. At first, they are both “heartbroken over their girls,” Crofchick said, but by Act II each of them will be pining for someone else.