Into the Woods: A Diverse and Inclusive Spin on Classic Fairy Tales
By Kennedra Tucker
James Lapine’s book, “Into the Woods” makes a dashing Ford’s Theater debut with an ethnically diverse and inclusive cast. As much as I enjoyed the passion of the performers that brought the 1987 musical to life, I was even more impressed by the makeup of the cast that includes Black, Asian, and Hispanic performers.
Awa Sal Secka, who plays the Baker’s wife, said, “Our production isn’t cast in the most traditional way. I’m grateful for the opportunity Peter Flynn gives me and others in this story. When you choose to have a young Black woman play your Baker’s wife, what does that mean? I was excited to explore that in rehearsals and excited for all of the different kinds of people we will reach by telling the story in this way.”
Director Flynn does indeed reach different kinds of people. The casting allows people of various ethnic backgrounds to see themselves in the story. Little Red Riding Hood, is played by a Black woman, Jade Jones. Rapunzel is played by an Asian woman, Quynh-My Luu.
Equally impressive was seeing the narrator of the story and the first character to appear on stage use forearm crutches. The narrator, Scott Sedar, is a performer with a disability.
He drew me into the story and reminded me that inclusivity should be a goal for all main stage theatrical performances. As an educator who has taught students of all ethnicities and physical ability levels, “Into the Woods,” sent a clear message: this is a production where young people can see representations of themselves.
As an educator who has taught students of all ethnicities and physical ability levels, “Into the Woods,” sent a clear message: this is a production where young people can see representations of themselves.
“Into to the Woods” is the story of classic fairy tale characters, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack and the Beanstalk. They converge for a journey in the woods to make their wishes come true.
Their plight makes for an engaging, albeit, long musical. With a run time of two hours and forty-five minutes, shortening the first and second act would have been no less impactful for an engaged audience. Nonetheless, the first act drew me in effortlessly, and I enjoyed the amazing singing and acting talent of the cast members.
The musical explores the consequences of achieving your dreams. It shows that happily ever after can come with a price. Despite the various challenges the main characters must overcome, they learn valuable lessons and forge strong bonds. Both the lessons learned and the bonds they form create a must see performance for anyone willing to appreciate a diverse and inclusive take on classic fairy tales.