|Seάn ÓTuathal finds her inner "Faery" as Cinderella's spirit mother|
PHOTO by Heidi Gabel
In Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, the woods are where the magic happens. Fairy tale characters come to life and live out their dreams. And when your name is Seάn ÓTuathal – which in Irish means "of the Faery Folk," – the play has even deeper meaning. In the Farmington Players production, Seάn plays Cinderella's mother, who is actually dead, but her spirit inhabits a hazel tree Cinderella planted at her grave. Seάn says, “I love playing a tree spirit, it's kind of an homage to my Irish heritage. Also, I love playing the loving mother who gets to say, 'yes' to her daughter and support her dreams. Everyone has dreams, some have support systems which help them to at least strive for, if not realize them. Some do not. I did not. Playing a mother who supports her child's dream is cathartic for me; it puts something to rest.”
As a psychology major, Seάn can get pretty deep in deciphering Sondheim’s hidden meanings: “I like how he takes the Shakespearean convention of removing people from society (where we have the illusion of control), into the woods (where magical things happen); also, how short-sighted we are; how we are never happy with what we have (and need to learn to be); how it often takes great challenges to make us see the light. I like especially how Sondheim gives voice to the outsider; how all sides are valid, not just ‘Our side.’ That's an important one these days.”
Cinderella’s father is played by Seάn’s real-life husband Bart Burger, who says, “Playing Cinderella's father has been wonderful, especially being able to share the stage for the first time with my wife, Sean. Cinderella's father is an interesting character, as I believe he is searching for a rebirth of hope and connection which he lost with the death of Cinderella's mother. He found some of it when he married his second wife, but that has dwindled. He spends the show trying to recapture this.” As Seάn says, Into the Woods is “a work of profound meaning for my husband and I. We have been lost in the woods for several years now. Knowing ‘No one leaves for good,’ is a great comfort to us.”
Seάn hopes that audiences “not only enjoy the clever way the messages in this show are presented, but leave the theatre with something to think about. To me, that's key.” Seάn and Bart have both really enjoyed their first experience at the Barn. Bart says, “I have always found theatre as an avenue of connecting and touching others. That has been a dream of mine, which is why I have been doing theatre most of my life, and also why I became a psychotherapist.” Seάn adds, “This cast is great. Folks are funny, and friendly, and so talented! Our directors are wonderful. It's really a thrill to be surrounded by all this professionalism, especially since I am a neophyte.”
Into the Woods has 12 performances at Farmington Players Barn Theater from April 27 – May 19. The show is proudly sponsored by Tru-Vista Wealth Advisors. Proceeds from the 50/50 raffle on opening night (April 27) will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the Barn box office at 248-553-2955.