Best of C+S 2015: If The Slipper Fits: Into the Woods Character Bios

This holiday season has been all about some movie called Star Wars, but if we dig into our noggins, we can remember back to last year when it was all about a musical called Into The Woods. I mean, not the same hoopla or box office intake, but like, to us, the same.

Over the holidays, two more stage to screen musicals made their debuts in the theatres – Annie and Into the Woods. One featured a scantily clad Cameron Diaz taking over a role made famous by Carol Burnett, and one has Meryl Streep singing songs adapted for the big screen by the OG composer and lyricist. We went to see one of those movies, and it rhymes with Shminto the Shwoods (it’s Into the Woods).

Into the Woods is classic Stephen Sondheim, with a difficult and sophisticated score and complex characters who thrive (or don’t, I guess) in a group setting. But Sondheim’s works are like onions – there are so many layers to it that it’s incomprehensible that he’s managed to incorporate so many themes and plot lines and characters into one cohesive production. It’s why he’s one of the greatest composers/lyricists to ever exist.

That being said, Into the Woods specifically tells the tale (or tales) of mostly pre-existing characters from several Brothers Grimm fairy tales. While the idea of keeping up with 15ish people’s lives sounds daunting, Sondheim, along with Rob Marshall who directed the film version, make the big screen version easy to follow, even for non-theater nerds who have no idea what they’re getting into. But if you do fit into that category and still need help delineating who’s who, we have come up with brief character bios for everyone in the musical.

*Editor’s note: we clearly made these up ourselves. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, this will all make more sense once you do. For now, just assume we’re hilarious.

Witch

Musical training: learned to “rap” from an early 1990s “hip hop” tape that teaches multiplication to fourth graders.

Hair inspiration: The “colorful hair” tag on Tumblr

Secret Wish: To be Elphaba in Wicked

Baker

High school superlative: Actual Prince Charming

Famous Relatives: Mr. Mellark

Baker’s Wife

Talents: grocery shopping without a written list

Non-talents: Staying near her damn cow

Personal gripe: Direct quote: “I have lived in my town for 15 damn years and nobody has even bothered to ask what my name is.” [It’s Wendy. No. Was it Stacy? Crystal. Probably. Wait… Lisa, maybe?]

Secret hobby: One-upping all of the other ladies on her infertility/ pregnancy planning message board. “Oh, that’s cute about your tilted uterus and IVF. I had a witch’s curse, and first we tried a cow as white as milk…” She seems sweet, but make no mistake: those broads hate her.

Cinderella

Hair inspiration: The prom issue of a late-90s Delia*s catalog

Height: Little Red / Jack

Weight: see above

Wardrobe secrets: really more into flats

Future career: organizing guru / sole proprietor of a housecleaning service

Side gig: motivational speaker, touring high schools with her presentation Losing My Shoe, Finding Myself: What I Learned In The Woods

Cinderella’s Dead Mother Tree

Famous relatives: Grandmother Willow from Pocahontas; Whomping Willow from Harry Potter

Weakness: Gossiping too much with the other trees about the fools running around the woods with cows and shit

Hidden talents: Nothing. She’s a tree.

Hobbies: photosynthesis, maybe?

Cinderella’s Prince

Arch nemeses: T.L.C. ( chases waterfalls, despite their admonitions)

Nickname: McStreamy

Favorite Cologne: Sex Panther

Cinderella’s Stepmother

Weird Fetish: Feet

Famous Relatives: Anjelica Houston

Florinda

Hairstyling Secret: Uses the Air Curler on the daily

Hair inspiration: Amy March

Dislikes: Open-toed shoes

Lucinda

Secret wish: To hook up with Elsa from Frozen

Occupation: Studying to be a ballerina, working exclusively en pointe.

Top Google hit: “Lucinda + feet”

Little Red

Occupation: Cautionary Tale

Personal motto: Nice is different than good

Arch nemesis: Sophia Grace from The Ellen DeGeneres show; everyone who has ever played Annie

Life goals: To be the first child in musical theater to achieve MALRAC (playing the roles of Matilda, Annie, Little Red, Amaryllis, and Cosette)

Little Red Riding Hood’s Grandmother

Screenshot 2015-01-14 02.39.23

Allergies: Gluten

Famous Relatives: Old Rose from Titanic, Wendy Darling

Weaknesses: Befriending wild animals in the woods

The Wolf

Criminal background: Allegorical Rapist

Deepest Secret: Sort of … really obviously human

You may know him from the TLC special: I Swallowed Two Humans!: The Man With The Cavernous Stomach

Jack

Personal history: emerged fully formed from a 22-year-old’s “Future Children 🙂 ” Pinterest board

Life goals: to be the first child in musical theater to achieve a BEJOG (playing the roles of  Billy Elliott, Jack, Oliver, and Gavroche)

Weakness: Peer pressure

Jacks’ Mother

Favorite TV shows: Dance Moms, House Hunters International, Gilmore Girls

Skills: Basketweaving, hairdressing, makes killer zucchini bread

Allergies: Beans

Giant

 

Famous Relatives: Jack Black (in Gulliver’s Travels), Shaq

Life Motto: “Size does matter”

Giant’s Wife

 

Dislikes: Little kids messing with magic beans and killing giants, never finding clothes that fit at Talbots or Chicos

You May Know Her From The I.D. Special: Dateline Nightline: When Giant Housewives Snap

The Beanstalk

Favorite pastime: Messing with people’s front yards

Fun fact: Was up for the role of venus flytrap Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors (1986), but deemed “not venus flytrap-y enough”.

Famous Relatives: The grapevine (of “heard it through the…” fame)

Rapunzel

Biggest secret: Shhh! They’re extensions.

Fun fact: Secretly has her own line of extensions she sells on Etsy

Secret Wish: To be a lounge singer on a Disney Cruise Line

Rapunzel’s Prince

Hair inspiration: Derrick from Full House

Secondary hair inspiration: Dawson Leery

Awards: Was named fastest climber in elementary school P.E. rope climb test

Cow

Occupation: Cow

Special Skills: Makes milk

Pet Peeves: Being led around a forest for hours by a kid and a singing British couple

Annoying habit: Says “my stomachs hurt!” whenever she doesn’t feel well. Yes. You have multiple stomachs. WE KNOW.

 Stephen Sondheim

Occupation: Bad ass father of musical theatre

Brags The Most About: That one cameo he made in 2003 musical theatre film Camp (starring Anna Kendrick)

Fun Fact: Has Meryl Streep and Bernadette Peters’ phone numbers (probably)

If The Slipper Fits: Into the Woods Character Bios

Over the holidays, two more stage to screen musicals made their debuts in the theatres – Annie and Into the Woods. One featured a scantily clad Cameron Diaz taking over a role made famous by Carol Burnett, and one has Meryl Streep singing songs adapted for the big screen by the OG composer and lyricist. We went to see one of those movies, and it rhymes with Shminto the Shwoods (it’s Into the Woods).

Into the Woods is classic Stephen Sondheim, with a difficult and sophisticated score and complex characters who thrive (or don’t, I guess) in a group setting. But Sondheim’s works are like onions – there are so many layers to it that it’s incomprehensible that he’s managed to incorporate so many themes and plot lines and characters into one cohesive production. It’s why he’s one of the greatest composers/lyricists to ever exist.

That being said, Into the Woods specifically tells the tale (or tales) of mostly pre-existing characters from several Brothers Grimm fairy tales. While the idea of keeping up with 15ish people’s lives sounds daunting, Sondheim, along with Rob Marshall who directed the film version, make the big screen version easy to follow, even for non-theater nerds who have no idea what they’re getting into. But if you do fit into that category and still need help delineating who’s who, we have come up with brief character bios for everyone in the musical.

*Editor’s note: we clearly made these up ourselves. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, this will all make more sense once you do. For now, just assume we’re hilarious.

Witch

Musical training: learned to “rap” from an early 1990s “hip hop” tape that teaches multiplication to fourth graders.

Hair inspiration: The “colorful hair” tag on Tumblr

Secret Wish: To be Elphaba in Wicked

Baker

High school superlative: Actual Prince Charming

Famous Relatives: Mr. Mellark

Baker’s Wife

Talents: grocery shopping without a written list

Non-talents: Staying near her damn cow

Personal gripe: Direct quote: “I have lived in my town for 15 damn years and nobody has even bothered to ask what my name is.” [It’s Wendy. No. Was it Stacy? Crystal. Probably. Wait… Lisa, maybe?]

Secret hobby: One-upping all of the other ladies on her infertility/ pregnancy planning message board. “Oh, that’s cute about your tilted uterus and IVF. I had a witch’s curse, and first we tried a cow as white as milk…” She seems sweet, but make no mistake: those broads hate her.

Cinderella

Hair inspiration: The prom issue of a late-90s Delia*s catalog

Height: Little Red / Jack

Weight: see above

Wardrobe secrets: really more into flats

Future career: organizing guru / sole proprietor of a housecleaning service

Side gig: motivational speaker, touring high schools with her presentation Losing My Shoe, Finding Myself: What I Learned In The Woods

Cinderella’s Dead Mother Tree

Famous relatives: Grandmother Willow from Pocahontas; Whomping Willow from Harry Potter

Weakness: Gossiping too much with the other trees about the fools running around the woods with cows and shit

Hidden talents: Nothing. She’s a tree.

Hobbies: photosynthesis, maybe?

Cinderella’s Prince

Arch nemeses: T.L.C. ( chases waterfalls, despite their admonitions)

Nickname: McStreamy

Favorite Cologne: Sex Panther

Cinderella’s Stepmother

Weird Fetish: Feet

Famous Relatives: Anjelica Houston

Florinda

Hairstyling Secret: Uses the Air Curler on the daily

Hair inspiration: Amy March

Dislikes: Open-toed shoes

Lucinda

Secret wish: To hook up with Elsa from Frozen

Occupation: Studying to be a ballerina, working exclusively en pointe.

Top Google hit: “Lucinda + feet”

Little Red

Occupation: Cautionary Tale

Personal motto: Nice is different than good

Arch nemesis: Sophia Grace from The Ellen DeGeneres show; everyone who has ever played Annie

Life goals: To be the first child in musical theater to achieve MALRAC (playing the roles of Matilda, Annie, Little Red, Amaryllis, and Cosette)

Little Red Riding Hood’s Grandmother

Screenshot 2015-01-14 02.39.23

Allergies: Gluten

Famous Relatives: Old Rose from Titanic, Wendy Darling

Weaknesses: Befriending wild animals in the woods

The Wolf

Criminal background: Allegorical Rapist

Deepest Secret: Sort of … really obviously human

You may know him from the TLC special: I Swallowed Two Humans!: The Man With The Cavernous Stomach

Jack

Personal history: emerged fully formed from a 22-year-old’s “Future Children 🙂 ” Pinterest board

Life goals: to be the first child in musical theater to achieve a BEJOG (playing the roles of  Billy Elliott, Jack, Oliver, and Gavroche)

Weakness: Peer pressure

Jacks’ Mother

Favorite TV shows: Dance Moms, House Hunters International, Gilmore Girls

Skills: Basketweaving, hairdressing, makes killer zucchini bread

Allergies: Beans

Giant

 

Famous Relatives: Jack Black (in Gulliver’s Travels), Shaq

Life Motto: “Size does matter”

Giant’s Wife

 

Dislikes: Little kids messing with magic beans and killing giants, never finding clothes that fit at Talbots or Chicos

You May Know Her From The I.D. Special: Dateline Nightline: When Giant Housewives Snap

The Beanstalk

Favorite pastime: Messing with people’s front yards

Fun fact: Was up for the role of venus flytrap Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors (1986), but deemed “not venus flytrap-y enough”.

Famous Relatives: The grapevine (of “heard it through the…” fame)

Rapunzel

Biggest secret: Shhh! They’re extensions.

Fun fact: Secretly has her own line of extensions she sells on Etsy

Secret Wish: To be a lounge singer on a Disney Cruise Line

Rapunzel’s Prince

Hair inspiration: Derrick from Full House

Secondary hair inspiration: Dawson Leery

Awards: Was named fastest climber in elementary school P.E. rope climb test

Cow

Occupation: Cow

Special Skills: Makes milk

Pet Peeves: Being led around a forest for hours by a kid and a singing British couple

Annoying habit: Says “my stomachs hurt!” whenever she doesn’t feel well. Yes. You have multiple stomachs. WE KNOW.

 Stephen Sondheim

Occupation: Bad ass father of musical theatre

Brags The Most About: That one cameo he made in 2003 musical theatre film Camp (starring Anna Kendrick)

Fun Fact: Has Meryl Streep and Bernadette Peters’ phone numbers (probably)

Broad City: A Toast to Elaine Stritch

We lost a good one yesterday, folks. Elaine Stritch – actress, singer, and the ultimate performer – passed away at the young age of 89. Or at least that’s what she made it seem like, anyways.

Elaine was known for her brutal honesty. Her salty candor. Her tart tongue. Her brassiness (is that even a word?). Her refusal to wear pants. Her unwavering ability to tell it like it is and not apologize for it. She was the absolute definition of a broad (in the best way possible). Elaine was what a lot of women, and men too, I imagine, wished they had the courage to be. She was fearless and she was truthful, classy yet not, and admirable all at the same time. A true legend and icon that will never be matched in our lifetimes.

And then there’s her talent. Ooh did she have it. A lot of people from our generation or younger are most familiar with Elaine as the wise-cracking equally as opinionated and verbal Colleen Donaghy, mother to Alec Baldwin’s Jack. I think this clip properly summarizes her character on the show – behind the caustic exterior is a woman who is caring and loving, despite the fact she doesn’t show it. Like, ever.

But Colleen Donaghy was just a role towards the end of her impressive career. She made her Broadway debut in 1946, and went in to appear in Wonderful Town and a number Noel Coward plays. However it was Stephen Sondheim (Steve, she called him) that helped her become the iconic Broadway actress she is/was today. In 1970, she was cast as the vodka-stinger drinking Joanne in his show Company, a role she was born to play. Or rather, was born to play her.

The character of Joanne was not only written for Elaine Stritch, it was based on her, or at least on her acerbic delivery of self-assessment, as exemplified by a moment George Furth had shared with her: they had entered a bar at two in the morning and Elaine, well-oiled, had murmured to the bartender in passing, ‘Just give me a bottle of vodka and a floor plan.’”
— Stephen Sondheim in Finishing the Hat on the late, great Elaine Stritch (1925-2014)

Shortly after the show opened on Broadway, a documentary of the cast recording the soundtrack was released, and in a memorable scene, Elaine is shown recording her classic song Ladies Who Lunch to less than perfect recordings. She eventually got the hang of it, and  what resulted was an act of genius, both on Sondheim’s behalf and Elaine’s on point delivery.

Fast forward to 2002 when she opens her one woman show on Broadway, Elaine Stritch At Liberty (which you can view in its entirety here). She talks about everything throughout both her professional and personal life, like the time she had a horrible date with Marlon Brando or describing the pain she felt after her husband’s death with the only way she knew how – a song from Sondheim’s Follies. She won her first and only Tony Award for the show, and the same guy who made the Company documentary turned At Liberty to a documentary as well in 2002, earning her an Emmy for Best Performance in a Variety Special in 2004, providing one of the most entertaining acceptance speeches in Emmys history.

Elaine took on Broadway one more time in the revival of Steve’s A Little Night Music, and appeared in a number of cabaret shows, which she performed in a cabaret below her apartment. And by that I mean she lived at NYC’s Hotel Carlyle and performed in the cafe downstairs. Woman was still energetic even into her 80s (I mean, I’m obsessed with this interview from last year. Doesn’t miss a beat). In 2013, after being a New Yorker for years, Elaine decided to move back to her homestate of Michigan in a subrub outside of Detroit.

“She doesn’t miss New York? “You say that like it’s not true!” she says. “I feel good about being here. When the hospital sends for me, when the ambulance comes and I ease my way out of the world, I’d rather be in Detroit, Michigan, than Lenox Hill. Pfft.” She actually spits. – Interview with Vulture in 2013 {x}

With Elaine gone, there’s an Elaine-shaped hole in the world of Broadway, in the world, really. It’ll be hard to ever find someone like her on the stage again. But here’s a toast to what Elaine left behind. A legacy that will be cherished for years. The tears, the laughter, etc. etc. etc. She probably wouldn’t want too much hullaballoo and ass kissing during her time of mourning anyways. So, let’s just drink to that.

 “I pray that I may live expectantly. To live expectantly – what’s going to happen on Sunday, and on Sunday what’s going to happen on monday? In the meantime, stay where you fucking are and enjoy it the best way you know how.” – New York Times Interview, 2008 {x}