Anna Fanning – Florinda
I work as a receptionist for four hours a day, three mornings a week, and we don’t get an incredibly large number of phone calls. Most days, I bring my script to work and mouth the words of the incredibly complex songs to myself. Sometimes I write letters or stories from the perspective of Florinda, trying to get into her head. Sometimes I’ll grab a pad of sticky notes and write quotes from the show in big, pretty, flowing letters. For the past few days, I’ve been doing my best to formulate a blog post, but there’s so many things to talk about that I’ve had trouble deciding where to begin.
I suppose the easiest place is at the beginning.
Into the Woods was the very first musical I ever saw, so it has always held a very special place in my heart. I can still remember the sounds of the birds pecking out the giant’s eyes because Young Anna thought that was the coolest thing in the whole world. When the opportunity presented itself my freshman year of high school, I joined theatre, and here I am now in the very show that started it all.
From the music to the lessons to the characterization, this is without a doubt one of the most difficult shows I’ve ever been in. However, it’s incredibly rewarding. The music is gorgeous, the script is breathtaking, the lesson that it teaches is priceless, and each character is insanely deep and complex when you begin to explore them.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about who Florinda is. She’s incredibly shallow, yes, but in the second act you can’t help but feel a little bad for her. She was raised with the expectation and the promise that she would marry the prince, and when the time finally came, she failed. When the shoe doesn’t fit, Florinda loses her future, her prince, and her mother, who no longer finds her useful and now only thinks of her as a burden. The only thing she has left is Lucinda, her sister who she has been pitted against for her entire life, but who she is now left behind with in the darkness (both literally and figuratively). The stepsisters may be terrible, but they are human, just like the rest of the characters. Their upbringing does not excuse their behavior, and many people like them exist in the real world.
That’s another thing: the realness of this show and it’s characters. The way this show resonates in some way with everyone. The way that it so accurately imitates reality, despite the talking birds and the giants and the witches and the fairytales. Everyone has a character that they relate to somehow, maybe even multiple characters. This show is about real people struggling with real things. Everyone has a giant. Everyone has something that they must face, everyone has something that they want. The question is if you are willing to slay it, to conquer it, to abandon all reason and go into the woods in search of it.
One of my favorite lines in the show, one that I often find myself writing in pretty cursive writing on a sticky note, is:
Someone is on your side
No one is alone
There are many of us who feel as if we are better off alone, but this show reminds us of the strength we have when we are together. It reminds us that we are human, and with each other’s help, we can defeat our giants.
Florinda could have led a different life. She could have joined with her sister and together, they could have led a noble life away from the reaches of their mother. But they did not. And because of that, they lost everything. They did not battle their giant.
I hope that you will battle yours, and that you will remember you do not have to do it alone.