everybody wishes for something. and as sondheim & lapine’s brilliant musical teaches us, “be careful what you wish for. wishes come true.”
i have to confess, the first time i learned of this musical was a quip from the gilmore girls. brad returns from a stint on broadway as jack and paris, of course, torments him with his solo from the play. so i dashed to barnes & noble, bought the two-disc original broadway cast recording, and my dreams of seeing it were realized when disney produced its lavish film just last Christmas.
like most sondheim works, the characters sing over each other occasionally. but it’s still a lovely sound. and reading the original book that was published from the 1988 broadway script put all the characters into perspective.
have a look at the process for painting this piece, i’ll try to stop rambling, and then i’ll let you know all the icons i hid in the background to reflect the tale in this faerie tale feet piece entitled, “i wish…” (both the first & last lines of this piece of musical theatre!)
okay. details hidden in the background include:
the items needed to break the curse on the baker’s house (& family tree):
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
cabbage/rampion- there’s a long linguistic history, but “rapunzel,” the baker’s sister he didn’t know he had & his neighbor the witch’s captive/adopted daughter- “rapunzel” is a type of cabbage which is why one of the princes comments what a ridiculous name his brother’s beloved obsession has.
cinderella (the golden slipper) wishes to go to the king’s festival, so there’s a royal purple banner with the king’s crown atop it.
there’s red’s basket she carries to granny’s house.
there’s the wolf.
there’s the five magic beans the baker & his wife pay jack for his cow, milky white.
there’s jack’s milk pail.
there’s the baker’s loaf of bread.
there’s golden eggs from the hen and the golden harp that jack brought down from the giant’s house in the sky.
there’s a lantern for traveling through the woods at all hours.
the baker’s hat.
three babies (rapunzel’s twins, plus the baker’s son once the curse is lifted)
the black glasses (cinderella’s birds blind her two meanie stepsisters)
the silver goblet the witch drinks the potion out of to lift the curse/spell once all the items are fed to the cow.
cinderella’s birds (who also help her pick the lentils out of the ashes, even though her stepmother still won’t let her go to the festival)
two crowns (the princes)
vines around the giant’s boots (the beanstalk)
red’s knife (she gets pretty feisty after she gets eaten by the wolf & rescued)
the scissors the witch used to cut rapunzel’s hair to keep the prince from ever visiting again
campanula paunculus- rampion- a purple bellflower in the witch’s garden, another derivative for “rapunzel”when you go back to the latin. and the wolf sings to red about missing all the flowers by staying on the path to grandmother’s house. tempting.
i think that’s it… oh! three moons over the woods because the baker & his wife only had three midnights to collect all the objects the witch required to break the spell– the curse on their family tree and the curse of old age & ugliness her mother placed on her for losing the magic beans that the baker’s father stole out of her garden.
it’s a magically inter-woven plot and musical. i’m a sucker for a good fairy tale mash up. and set to music? all the better. even if act II isn’t quite as happy as act I. plot twist!
as cinderella’s mother/tree sings:
“are you certain what you wish
is what you want?
if you know what you want,
then make a wish.”
original gouache painting on watercolour paper, 6×14″
from the faerie tale feet series by hallie m. bertling
inspired by stephen sondheim & james alpine’s “into the woods”
original framed painting available for $525. message me.
limited edition signed and numbered archival prints available at halthegal.etsy.com: