Q&A: Co-Directors Share Vision for 'Into the Woods'

The company of Into the Woods [Joan Marcus]
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Into the Woods, now playing at the Palace Theatre at Playhouse Square, intertwines familiar fairytales and explores what happens in the happily-ever-after-period. Co-directors Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld reimagined the 1980s musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine with their Fiasco Theater Company.

This version has a small cast of 10, and many actors play several parts and instruments on stage. Ideastream spoke with the co-directors about their vision for this production, which takes a more minimalistic approach than many musicals.

This show builds upon familiar story tales. How would you describe where Into the Woods takes things from there?

Noah Brody: It takes familiar stories, it intertwines them, and follows through on a lot of their familiar trajectories except that it implicates that characters’ lives with each other. And then it asks the question, ‘what happens after happily ever after,’ and follows that new path to its conclusion.

You both acted in the original production, in addition to directing. How does that duel role play into shaping a production?

Ben Steinfeld: It’s one of the unique ways that Fiasco works, which is that we really work as an ensemble. So that even when we have co-directors… who are directing the show together, which is kind of unusual in its own way, and then we also add on top of that directors that are also acting in the show. Part of what it means is that we can’t ask the cast to do anything that we ourselves are not willing to do. That creates a kind of group commitment to the storytelling that’s really rich. And it means that we allow so many more voices and ideas to be present in the room than is sometimes possible when you are working on a big musical, because we have a much more fluid hierarchy in our process. So it’s a challenge… sometimes it’s challenging for us, sometimes it's challenging for our collaborators. But I think what it yields is something that is super special and totally worth it.

The conversation with the co-directors about the show will be featured on Here and Now featuring the Sound of Applause Monday on 90.3.

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