Into the Woods at the Ahmanson

Gordon really wanted some French onion soup last night so he made a reservation at Kendall’s. And, of course, the Taper and Dorothy Chandler were both dark so there wasn’t a crush at the restaurant. Isn’t that always the way. But we were assured of a place at the table so it took the worry out of dining. We got our usual spot at the bar and ordered our soup. CNN was on TV but I made Gordon talk to me. I’m just off all ‘news’ programs. Calling cable channels ‘news’ is just an misnomer. They’re all partisan. You have to watch both CNN and Fox News; the truth is somewhere in the middle. At seven Gordon asked the bartender if we could watch Jeopardy. The bartender had to ask the manager and she reported that policy was to have the TV turned to sports or news. I thought of squalling like that guy who was manhandled off the plane but didn’t have the energy. The manager came back and asked what channel Jeopardy was on and switched to it! Bless her. Those of us at the bar played along and had a good time. And the soup and wine were both delicious. Good night at Kendall’s.

The only versions of Into the Woods I’ve ever seen were the movie and the PBS version of the New York show. I fell asleep through the PBS show but I liked the movie. Well, the Fiasco Theater Production that we saw last night was the best I’ve seen. The set was fragmented–as a matter of fact, it looked they spent $100 at a thrift store for old chairs and tables–with ropes woven into a sort of upstage grand drape. Along with lighting effects the ropes became the woods, basically anything they needed it to be. The minimal set made the show move quickly; they didn’t have to manhandle a big set. The actors all played three parts and played instruments. The staging was clever and imaginative. I think it worked so well for me because when you’re talking about witches, giants, and curses the imagination provides more magic than any CGI effect. The actors were all superb but, of course, I liked the comic actors the best. The guy who played the cow made me laugh every time he did anything–even when he played a prince. The woman who played Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood switched effortlessly between broad comedy and stark drama. And the song “No One is Alone” sung by the baker and Cinderella had me in tears. I loved this show. What I found curious was there were a lot of empty seats after the first act. I don’t know if people were bored (Sondheim can be difficult) or they didn’t understand that the first act is about wish fulfillment and the second act is about the consequences of seeing your wishes come true. I appreciated the book since I managed to stay awake. Parents can be selfish jerks, children can be thoughtless and destructive, everybody has an agenda. You just have to decide for yourself what is ‘good’. I recommend this production.

Oh, and the pic was taken by a fellow audience member; Gordon took her pic and she took ours. I don’t normally wear my Call the Midwife shoes with this dress but my dress pumps were pinching my little toe so I went for comfort over looks. I have to be able to walk or Gordon’s life isn’t worth living. Gittin’ old.

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About Barbara Schnell

I've dedicated my life to full-time employment avoidance. I've been an actress, renovated a 1921 California Bungalow, set a cash-winning record on $25,000 Pyramid, and came in last on Jeopardy. I live in Los Angeles with my patient husband and two cats.
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