Out of the Woods: A True Story
“This story is a beautiful complement to my favorite Sondheim musical.” –Christine Pedi, Sirius XM Radio
“Captivating, witty and sensitive. An inspiring book for the ages.” –Marina Kennedy, BroadwayWorld.com
Father takes six-year-old daughter to see summer production of Into the Woods, thinking in his ignorance it would be appropriate for children because it’s about fairy tales. Problem is that her mother died when daughter was three weeks old, and seeing the show opens the floodgates to almost seven years of unresolved grief for both of them.
Next morning, daughter wakes father and begs him to take her to see it again. And the same the next morning, and the next after that. And so begins a three-week journey into their own dark and scary woods.
Out of the Woods: A True Story is about the power of music, theatre and storytelling to open doors and cast light into dark corners. And the power of trust and friendship, as the cast of the show embraces their journey and shows how true, life-changing catharsis can happen when you least expect it.
Kevin Farley Interview
with Keith J. Dolan
What made you decide to write this book?
To get my friend Eric to stop bugging me about it. He and his wife came to visit and asked what I’d been up to and I told them about the Into the Woods thing. He got it in his head it was a story that should be told, and eventually won me over.
By convincing me there were other people stuck in grief like I was, and my story could encourage them to keep going until they get their chance to learn that grief is a natural process of healing that will find a way to happen. And their instincts will guide them, like Kendyll recognized the opportunity presented by the show. She knew we needed to move on.
What were you thinking when you took a motherless six-year-old to see that show in particular?
When you post this, leave a big blank space. That’s what I was thinking. It was pretty much par for the course in those days.
Did you have some idea in mind when you kept returning to the show?
It was Kendyll’s idea to keep returning to the show. I went along because she felt strongly about it, and we had the time to do it, and I couldn’t think of any reason not to.
You make it sound like you were a passive participant in the whole thing.
My failure to face up to the emotional effects of what happened to Kendyll’s mother eventually eroded my initiative in all areas of my life. I was too exhausted from propping up my defenses to think of anything else.
Until Into the Woods?
Until Into the Woods. I once told Kendyll I owe her my life for making that happen, and I still believe it.
She sounds like she was quite a precocious child.
I worried at first that readers would be skeptical of her level of insight. But everyone who has read it who knew her back then said it sounds just like her.
You make the point that the cast of the show was a significant factor in all this.
I wrote the book feeling that I owed a debt of gratitude to the people who did the show, and by extension, all people who do theatre everywhere. And that sometimes they have moments of doubt about whether it’s worth all the trouble and hardship they often go through. This story makes the case that every single thing they do in theatre at least has the potential to make the world a better place in some way.
How did this experience change your outlook?
I realized that bad things will happen but if you just live long enough, good things will happen and the balance will eventually regress to the mean and you’ll realize that your life has turned out as well and fair as any reasonable person could ask for.
This is really a wonderful story.
I know! All I had to do was write it without messing it up.
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