Nothing's all black, but then nothing's all white?
How do you say it will all be all right
When you know that it might not be true?
What do you do?
Stephen Sondheim is a musical theatre genius. The things he can do with music and lyrics utterly shames the talents of ordinary people. These are true facts. Unfortunately I don't like all his shows. It's just so story and character focused, and the music always complements that. And if the story doesn't appeal to me, the music loses it's lustre. To me only in the whole wide world, I'm sure. But you guys, this is not the case with this musical. I adore this show, it brings joy to my story and music loving soul and the adapting, reworking and weaving of the different fairy tales is sheer perfection. There are repeating themes and layers of meaning from the plot and lyrics that extend clear through to the repeating motifs in the melodies. And if that isn't enough, this musical is hilarious! Seriously, Stephen Sondheim is not human.
The first act is the happily ever after, and interweaves the stories of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack (of Beanstalk fame). The second act is about the consequences. And things aren't so happy. To be honest, there are so many layers to this musical, it is difficult to break it down in this short insignificant post of mine. Sondheim's music almost always supports the words - it's not often he has a conventional melodic song in his shows - but it totally works for his shows. And so to really enjoy his musicals you must know and appreciate the story. They are very much intertwined. I can't say much more than if there is an opportunity to see this show live, you must see it. I can almost guarantee that if you like fairy tales, you will enjoy this musical! Listening to the soundtrack is entertaining, but seeing the whole picture makes everything come together perfectly.
Song Spotlight: "Your Fault"
There are some amazing songs in the musical obviously, but I've always been a little obsessed by this very short song in the second act that leads into "Last Midnight". It's five characters having an argument. Singing! Five characters! And the music builds to a fast and frantic pace; I'm just amazed at the amount of practice it must take to be able to sing the lines, with the right emphasis and with the right timing. Everybody is pointing fingers at everyone else for the bad things that have happened, and the music is a whirling melody, just fueling everyone's anger and unreasonable accusations. And then when it slows down for "Last Midnight", the frenzy of the song is that much more emphasized.
And I just want to mention my favorite bit in this song - just this one moment, when Jack points his finger at Little Red because she dared him so it's her fault, and then everyone gets on board and says 'so it's your fault!' Little Red's line is "Wait a minute." But when it's done right - with just that touch of 'WTF! Are you guys freaking serious?' attitude behind it - I love it! It just kills me, it's so funny!