A Decidedly Happy Path

Article excerpt

Barcelona goes Into the Woods for the first time

First there were the amateur, well-intentioned productions of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (better known in Spain by the title of the film version, Golfus de Roma). Then there were the superb versions of Company and Sweeney Todd, the more debatable adaptation of A Little Night Music and the inconsistent although surprisingly fresh Merrily We Roll Along in early 2007. Such is the story of Stephen Sondheim musicals in Barcelona and Catalonia, with few other brief productions: the fleeting presence of Assassins with its almost marginal staging, and the tributes, concerts and excerpts offered by different figures (imported or otherwise) in the world of show business to the delight of those in the know.

Mario Gas and Marcos Ordóñez, Xavier Salvà and the folks at El Musical Més Petit, Joan Matabosch programming the Foyer of the Gran Teatre del Liceu - all these have been key for promoting the work of Sondheim among the inconsistent and almost always mistrustful combination of an ill-informed public; professionals only willing to take the plunge with exceptionally popular works; and inexperienced critics who continue to refer condescendingly to musicals as a lesser genre.

Nonetheless, in the last decade, Sondheim's name has ceased to be a complete mystery for those who keep up with stage productions in Catalonia. We long to see Follies in our cities and eagerly await Sunday in the Park with George and Pacific Overtures, not to mention Passion, the most likely production to be put on here, if recent rumors are to be believed.

Although for many years a mere rumor among professionals eager to adapt Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods, Boscos endins (the Catalan title) is now a reality. It premiered at the Teatre Victoria in Barcelona on Jan. 30, 2008, after a prior presentation at the Festival Temporada Alta de Girona. It was a tremendous success for the Dagoll Dagom company, led by Joan Lluís Bozzo. Dagoll Dagom has long specialized in musicals, but mostly ones of its own making. With Boscos endins Dagoll Dagom faced a twofold challenge: its company's prestige in Spain set the bar very high, and taking on a work by Sondheim for the first time forced it to radically rethink its creative habits. …