Andrew’s a good sport about coming to the theatre with me. Any time we visit New York, we try to see two Broadway shows. He doesn’t even mind if one of those shows is a musical. He actually likes musicals, as long as they aren’t clichéd, and don’t come with a Disney pedigree.
Into The Woods is one of those musicals that I missed seeing live. It wasn’t playing in New York any time we visited, and I don’t remember it coming to Toronto. I was thrilled when I heard it was being turned into a movie.
One night early last month, Andrew and I were talking about going out. He said, “What about that new Meryl Streep movie?”
I hesitated. That new Meryl Streep movie. He knew it was a musical, right? And that it was a Walt Disney production?
And if he didn’t, should I warn him?
When we got to the theatre, from the moment we heard the words, “Once upon a time”, it was obvious Into The Woods was, indeed, a musical. And a Disney production. Andrew looked at me, incredulously.
“You knew this was a musical, right?’ I whispered.
He shook his head in disbelief.
“It’s by Stephen Sondheim,” I said. “You liked A Little Night Music.”
Andrew gave me a dubious look, but settled back with the popcorn.
He smirked through most of the first hour. The low point was probably the song “Agony”, during which he left to check his messages and, possibly, to phone for help.
I’m still not sure what turned the tide. Meryl Streep makes a pretty convincing witch. The presence of two of the loveliest (and most likeable) actresses, Emily Blunt and Anna Kendrick, probably didn’t hurt. Either way, by the end of the movie, Andrew was as invested in the outcome as I was.
In the end, I thought this movie was one of the most moving musicals I’ve seen. The woods represented experience, the leaving behind of innocence: life with all its joys and sorrows, sometimes both at the same time.
“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.”
– from Into the Woods by Steven Sondheim
The witch’s directions to the Baker and his wife were simple:
“Go into the woods 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.”
Those rules might have been easier than the one I set out for myself, which was to find a recipe that incorporated as many of those elements as possible. This chowder uses milk (well, cream); corn; and burnished gold in the guise of butternut squash. For the red cape, I accessorized with a napkin in scarlet hues and hoped it was close enough. Best of all, this chowder makes a fairy tale
ending beginning for any meal.
Corn and Butternut Squash Chowder
(adapted from Martha Stewart)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
5 cups butternut squash cut into 1” chunks (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups frozen corn
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
kosher salt and ground pepper, to taste
3 1/2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
homemade croutons and shredded cheese, for garnish (optional)
In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high; add squash and onion. Cook until onion is soft, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add corn and curry powder; cook until curry is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add broth and simmer until squash is tender, about 25 minutes. Using an immersion blender, mix the soup until most or all of the chunks of squash have been blended. (The chowder won’t be completely smooth.) Stir in the cream and heat over medium-low heat. (Do not boil after the cream has been added.)
Add croutons and shredded cheese, if desired, and serve.
For other recipes that have been inspired by musicals, see the list at the bottom of my recipe index.