March 22- Happy Birthday Stephen Sonheim– creator of the music and lyrics of my second favorite musical of all time- Into The Woods

Original Broadway Cast- Little Red, Jack, Cinderella, the Baker, and the Witch

If we were to sing ‘happy bday’ to Mr. Sondheim, we’d probably have to either sing it with quirky funny lyrics at break-neck speed with a ton of accidentals thrown in the melody, or in a lyric ballad. He’s a master of those two extremes– as seen in ‘Into The Woods’. This musical, which debuted in San Diego in 1986 (hey that’s when I was born!) is the story of a childless baker and his wife who interact with a bunch of fairy tale characters all attempting to make a wish come true (go to the ball, get the prince, regain youth and beauty, become rich, etc) Some of the characters are: Jack (from jack and the beanstalk) Little red, the wolf, and granny, Cinderella, Rapunzel, their womanizing royal players princes, and a haggard old witch (and yes, this is the role that I want to play. I always want to be the ugly ones- it reflects my natural sense of self-esteem. Just kidding).  It isn’t your frothy fairy tale– I think about ten characters die, there is adultery, and greed and fear and animal torture and vanity galore.

Let me tell you a quick bedtime story boys and girls:

Louisville Ballet Principals Natalia Ashikhmina and Phillip Velanov (real life married couple)

 Once upon a time, when I was dancing with Louisville Ballet, I was a ‘star’ in the Alun Jones choreographed ‘Cinderella’.

While I was doing that, I got horrible blisters on my pinky toes which got infected and turned into a horrible case of blood poisoning, my feet swelled up like pumpkins, and I almost had to have the toes amputated. But my Fairy GodPodiatrist granted my wish for some magical transformative Promwear footcream. He also had to slice various parts of my foot open and suction out infected blood and pus. And then rather than sending me off to dance, he told me to stay off the slippers (pointe shoes) and no dancing for a few weeks. I guess I’m kind of the anti-Cinderella. But I got to keep all ten toes. And they all lived happy ever after on my foot.

My caricatures of the trainees of The Louisville Ballet- that's me on the bottom lefthand corner with the big snarky smile and blood oozing out of my feet

 One part that I love in Into the Woods is where Cindy’s Prince is searching for her like some sort of  Macy’s shoe salesman and when the sample size version doesn’t fit her step sisters, the stepmother takes out a giant knife and slices off a bit of the heel on one, a toe of the other. I could have done that for real with my doctor- no fantasy necessary!I don’t know if it’s my personal experience with Cinderella or just the ballet itself, but I’m not really a huge fan. I do like some of the Prokofiev score, particularly the ‘Dance of the Oranges’ done by the Stepsisters in Act 2. The Louisville version is hilarious, particularly since the stepsisters are danced by men. I am excited to give the show another chance to win my favor when Missouri Ballet Theatre offers up their version in June (my birthday month- happy bday me!). I’m really wishing that they will call me up and ask me to guest artist as an ugly stepsister. I’d cut off my own toe for that. I mean, hey, my doc was about to do it anyways.

I don’t know why the world of film and television is so spellbound by Fairy tales these days but I do like the look of this modern Fantastical Trip:

40 New Fairy Tales from various authors. I am especailly curious to read the ones from Joyca Carol Oates and Kelly Link

4 thoughts on “Anti-Cinderella

    • That would be amazing! I’m sad that Sedaris didn’t write one. But I suppose we have his animal allegory stories (Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk). Have you read it? Fabulous.

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