Into the Woods – Life Lessons, Infertility and Magic Beans


You’re about to be inundated with images from Into the Woods because the movie is coming out soon.

Into the Woods is about several different fairy tales meeting up in the woods and the havoc it causes along with life lessons about destruction, heroics, betrayal, family, love and loss.

Every life lesson one needs to learn can be learned from Sondheim musicals.

If you’ve never seen the live show or heard the music, you are missing out. You need to fix that, immediately.

I have such a deep connection to this show – going so far as to say it is my most favorite musical – that it scares the crap out of me what this movie could be like.  Similarly to how a movie is rarely as good as the book, the movie is rarely as good as the stage version of shows.  Especially Sondheim.

All you theatre nerds know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. Fist bump.  Those of us close to this show take it personally.  We take it very personally.  

That said, I’m trying to be optimistic about this movie.  It’s got a very strong cast and the magic factor is strong.  But I hold it to a very high standard and kind of have my side eye going whenever I see photos or hear another clip about it.

The news about the movie got me thinking though as I blasted the soundtrack a couple months ago (singing every word every inflection every harmony every note) while skipping the mile home from the train each night for a week…….it hit me like a ton of bricks………THE BAKER AND HIS WIFE WERE CURSED WITH INFERTILITY.

Oh. my. god. I played the Baker’s Wife in this production 20 years ago.  It’s all about me, don’t you know.

There I am. About 20 years old and NO IDEA what curse would befall me.

I had no idea the profundity of the curse of infertility that was placed on the Baker and the Baker’s Wife.  Call me so naive as a 20 year old, but I had no idea what that meant really.  I mean I knew they wanted a baby and there was a curse placed on them because when his mother was pregnant she ate up all the witches bounty from her garden – as one does.  But then she offers respite –

Witch: You wish to have The curse reversed? I’ll need a certain Potion first. Go to the wood and bring me back: One: the cow as white as milk, Two: the cape as red as blood, Three: the hair as yellow as corn, Four: the slipper as pure as gold. Bring me these before the chime Of midnight In three days’ time, And you shall have, I guarantee, A child as perfect As child can be. Go to the wood! 

The term infertility hadn’t entered my ozone yet at 20 years old.  And it wouldn’t for another 10 or so years.

I got to wear a baby bump for part of this show.  I thought it was so cute.

ONCE UPON A TIME.  LATER. My husband and I were cursed with infertility.

We needed to have the curse reversed.  Only we used devil science as our magic instead.  WHOA.  That’s deep.

It takes two.  If the end is right, it JUSTIFIES THE BEANS.

I have such fond memories of this show.  Summertime.  My good friend was Prince Charming – “Is he charming?  They say that he’s charming”.  My little brother mowing the lawn while singing, “THERE ARE GIANTS IN THE SKY” because my whole family had fallen in love with the songs.  Throwing my handkerchief out into the audience each night after singing “Any Moment” with the tears with the joy and the exuberance of live performance moving a group of people and being really IN THE MOMENT, just a moment in the woods.

Never have I enjoyed playing a character so much as I enjoyed playing the Baker’s Wife.  She is still my favorite and probably always will be.  I lived and breathed and embodied her.  Seems foolish, but I am extremely protective of her and of this show.  Of the characters and the show.

Joanna Gleason as the Baker’s Wife. I worshipped her sincerity and deadpan.

I’m so excited for the movie.  I will fangirl it up for sure.  The life lessons in this one are strong.  The original script is DARK.  Because fairy tales are dark. I hope hope hope that they don’t Disnify it up too much and lose the darkness because it is important for the stories.

Ask me about my one woman performance of this show.  I’ll be only too happy to oblige.  I don’t know my husband’s cell phone number, but I remember every single word to this show 20 years later.

This show isn’t just mine.  No matter how personal it seems to me.  It’s yours and ours and our childrens because it’s THAT personal to each one of us.  Once upon a time, I thought it belonged to me and me alone.  Today I know it belongs to all of us.  And what a treasure we all have in this show.

Look, tell him the story
Of how it all happened.
Be father and mother,
You’ll know what to do.


Sometimes people leave you
halfway through the wood.
Do not let it grieve you,
No one leaves for good.
You are not alone.
No one is alone.

Hold him to the light now,
Let him see the glow.
Things will be all right now.
Tell him what you know…


Shhh. Once upon a time… in a far-off kingdom…
there lived a young maiden… a sad young lad…
and a childless baker… with his wife…

Careful the things you say,
Children will listen.
Careful the things you do,
Children will see.
And learn.

Children may not obey,
But children will listen.
Children will look to you
For which way to turn,
To learn what to be.

Careful before you say,
“Listen to me.”
Children will listen.

Careful the wish you make,
Wishes are children.
Careful the path they take-
Wishes come true,
Not free.

Careful the spell you cast,
Not just on children
Sometimes the spell may last
Past what you see
And turn against you…

Careful the tale you tell.
That is the spell.
Children will listen…

ALL (In 3 groups)
Though it’s fearful,
Though it’s deep, though it’s dark
And though you may lose the path,
Though you may encounter wolves,
You can’t just act,
You have to listen.
You can’t just act 
You have to think.

Though it’s dark,
There are always wolves,
There are always spells,
There are always beans,
Or a Giant dwells there.

So it’s
Into the woods
You go again,
You have to
Every now and then.
Into the woods,
No telling when,
Be ready for the journey.

Into the woods,
But not too fast
Or what you wish
You lose at last.

Into the woods, but mind the past.
Into the woods, but mind the future.
Into the woods, but not to stray,
Or tempt the Wolf or steal from the Giant-
The way is dark,
The light is dim,
But now there’s you,
Me, her and him.
The chances look small,
The choices look grim,
But everything you learn there
Will help when you return there.

The light is getting dimmer-

I think I see a glimmer-

Into the woods-
You have to grope,
But that’s the way
You learn to cope.
Into the woods
To find there’s hope
Of getting through the journey.

Into the woods-
Each time you go,
There’s more to learn
Of what you know.

Into the woods, but not too slow-
Into the woods, it’s nearing midnight-
Into the woods to mind the Wolf,
To heed the Witch,
To honor the Giant,
To mind,
To heed,
To find,
To think,
To teach,
To join,
To go to the Festival!

Into the woods,
Into the woods,
Into the woods,
Then put of the woods
And happy ever after!


… I wish..

Every life lesson one needs to learn can be learned from Sondheim musicals.  Sometimes the fairy tales really do have a happy ending, just not the way you’d expect.  

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